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\;)W$ i: ;l IN 

The Proceedings of 
A Conference Sponsored by 
The Ecumenical Institute of Wake Forest University 
Belmont Abbey College 
The Bishops of the Atlanta Province 

May 14-16, 1973 

Belmont Abbey, Belmont, North Carolina 

The Proceedings 

Catholics and Baptists in Ecumenical Dialogue 
Belmont Abbey, Belmont, North Carolina 
May 14-16, 1973 

Sponsored by 

The Ecumenical Institute of W_ake Forest University 
Belmont Abbey College 
The Bishops of the Atlanta Province 

Edited by J. William Angell 
Director, The Ecumenical Institute 


Copyright by 

The Ecumenical Institute 

Wake Forest University 

V'u. 5c/,. 
Table of Contents ^^6>3 


I. Introduction Page 5 

II. Participants in the Dialogue Page 7 

III. "Spiritual Formation for Social Action". . Page 9 

The Most Reverend Charles H. Helmsing 

Response Page 18 

The Reverend Henry E. Turlington 

IV. "The Authority for Faith" Page 2 5 

The Reverend Dale Moody 

Response Page 39 

The Reverend Monsignor Bernard F. Law 

V. "The Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church". Page 44 

The Most Reverend John L. May 

Response Page 53 

VI. "The Formation of Doctrine" Page 57 

The Reverend John E. Steely 

VII. "Worship: Source and Strength of Virtue" . Page 6 8 

The Reverend Claude U. Broach 



This Dialogue was tne fourth conference between 
Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists co-sponsored by 
the Ecumenical Institute of Wake Forest University. 
The first, in May, 1969, was held on the University's 
campus in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The second, 
in February, 1970, was held at St. Joseph's Abbey, near 
Covington, Louisiana. And the third, in May, 1970, was 
convened at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 
in Louisville, Kentucky. 

All who participated in these conferences have been 
blessed by them and have gone away with the conviction 
that progress was achieved toward the spiritual unity of 
separated Christian brothers. The purpose of the con- 
ferences has been toward that goal rather than the a- 
chievement of any kind of official or organizational unity. 

The Dialogue at Belmont Abbey was the fruition of 
plans carefully made over a year by several persons from 
both Belmont Abbey and Wake Forest University. Perhaps 
it should be noted that one of the finest results of the 
endeavour was the warm and lasting friendship which was 
formed between those of us who so thoroughly enjoyed the 
planning sessions and the conference itself. Working, 
worshipping and witnessing together is doubtless the 
path we must follow toward improved fellowship. 

The Dialogue was the result of work by the following: 

The Right Reverend Edmund F. McCaffrey, 0. S. B., 

Abbot Ordinary, Belmont Abbey Nullius 
The Reverend John P. Bradley, 

President, Belmont Abbey College 
Dr. James Ralph Scales, 

President, Wake Forest University 
The Honorable Brooks Hays , 

Founder and Consultant, The Ecumenical Institute 
The Reverend Claude U. Broach, 

Pastor, St. John's Baptist Church, Charlotte, 

and Consultant, The Ecumenical Institute 
The Reverend J. William Angell, 

Director, The Ecumenical Institute 

In addition to these, of course, many others had important 
parts in the conference, including all the Bishops of the 
Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Brothers of Belmont Abbey, and 
especially those who prepared the addresses on the program. 

It should be noted that one part of the program is 
missing in this book of proceedings : the response to the 
address by Dr. Steeley. It was given by the Reverend 
Lawrence Everett, C. Ss . R. , but since the meeting he has 
been ill and found it impossible to send his manuscript 


to us for printing. We regret this omission. 

A final session of the conference entailed two 
significant features not otherwise recorded here. First 
these was a panel of students who discussed "A Student 
View of Ecumenism." Two were from Wake Forest Uni- 
versity: Mr. H. Walter Townshend and Miss Helen Lee 
Turner. Two were from Belmont Abbey College: Mr. 
Allen Morris and Mr. John Hoffman. In addition, a 
splendid and inspiring Summation was given by Mr. 
Brooks Hays and The Most Reverend Ernest L. Unterkoef ler , 
Bishop of Charleston. 

Perhaps the high point of the conference was the 
Concelebrated Mass held in Belmont Abbey Cathedral on 
May 15 and attended by all the participants as well as 
many guests. The Mass was celebrated by the Most 
Reverend Thomas A. Donnellan, Archbishop of Atlanta, 
along with the other Bishops and Priests in attendance. 
Handel's "Mass" was sung by the Choir of St. John's 
Baptist Church, in Latin, and the Mass was said in 
English. A spirit of fellowship and the Spirit of God 
were genuinely present in this period of worship. 

We believe that this Dialogue between Roman Catholics 
and Baptists was another step on the path toward under- 
standing, even a humble response to the prayer of Christ 
"that they may be one." 

J. William Angell 

Director, Ecumenical Institute 

Wake Forest University 

Participants in the Dialogue 

Roman Catholics 

The Most Reverend Thomas A. Donnellan 

The Right Revenend Edmund F. McCaffrey, O.S. 

The Most Reverend Charles H. Helmsing 

The Most Reverend John L. May 

The Most Reverend Michael J. Begley 

The Most Reverend Gerard L. Frey 

The Most Reverend George E. Lynch 

The Most Reverend Ernest L. Unterkoefler 

The Most Reverend Raymond W. Lessard 

The Reverend Monsignor Bernard F. Law 

The Reverend Lawrence Everett, C. Ss. R. 

The Reverend John P. Bradley 

The Reverend Monsignor R. Donald Kiernan 

The Reverend Robert C . Berson 

The Reverend Robert L. Kinast 

The Reverend Patrick J. McCormick 

The Reverend Monsignor Charles J. O'Connor 

The Reverend Monsignor James E. McSweeney 

The Reverend Thomas J. O'Donnell, S. J. 

The Reverend Edwin G. Garvey , C. S. B. 

The Reverend Monsignor Charles J. Baum 

The Reverend Ronald P. Anderson 

The Reverend Charles H. Rowland 

The Reverend John Cuddy 

The Reverend Thomas Healy 

The Reverend Michael Delea 

The Very Reverend William Coleman 

Father Cuthbert Allen, 0. S. B. 

Father James Solari, 0. S. B. 

Father Jerome Dollard, 0. S. B. 

Sister Maria Goretti, R. S. M. 

Sister Mary Jerome, R. S. M. 

Sister Jean Marie, R. S. M. 

Sister Charleen Walsh, R. S. M. 

Dr. William E. Rabil 

Mrs. William E. Rabil 

Dr. Joseph Schell 

Mr. Edward J. Dowd, Jr. 

Mr. E. F. Gallagher, II 

Col. Francis J. Beatty 

Dr. Gilbert J. Farley 

Mr. Harry T. Gribbon 

Dr. William Wells 

Mrs. William Wells 

Dr. Earl Droessler 

Mrs. Earl Droessler 

Mr. Ernest I. King 


Dr. L. C. Roache 

Mr. H. William Petry 

Mrs. E. J. Coury 

Mr. William E. Stavro 

Mrs. Sara Lloyd 

Mrs. Edmund Anderson 

Mrs. Thomas F. McLaughlin 

Mrs. William Trotter 

Mr. Allen Morris 

Mr. John Hoffman 

B aptists 

The Reverend J. William Angell 

The Honorable Brooks Hays 

Mrs . Brooks Hays 

The Reverend Claude U. Broach 

Mrs. Claude U. Broach 

President James Ralph Scales 

Mrs. James Ralph Scales 

The Reverend Dale Moody 

The Reverend John E. Steely 

The Reverend Henry E. Turlington 

The Reverend L. D. Johnson 

The Reverend Warren T. Carr 

The Reverend Douglas Aldrich 

Mrs. Douglas Aldrich 

The Reverend C. B. Hastings 

The Reverend Carl Tiller 

The Reverend Carlton T. Mitchell 

President Pope A. Duncan 

The Reverend Luther Copeland 

The Reverend Charles 0. Milford 

The Reverend Robert McClernon 

The Reverend Ernest Glass 

The Reverend Leon C . Riddick 

The Reverend Coleman W. Kerry 

The Reverend Paul M. Pridgen, Jr. 

The Reverend John Beam 

The Reverend Paul Nix 

Dr. W. Hugh McEniry 

The Reverend Charles H. Talbert 

The Reverend Emmett W. Hamrick 

Mrs. Michael Starling 

Miss Helen Lee Turner 

Mr. H. Walter Townshend 


"Spiritual Formation for Social Action" 
The Most Reverend Charles H. Helmsing 

With my brother bishops in the II Vatican Council, 
I firmly believe that every undertaking of dialogue, of 
praying together, of studying, and of social action and 
charity to unite Christians is from the Holy Spirit of 
God; and, therefore, that this prayerful gathering at 
Belmont Abbey is a work of God. -(Cf . II Vatican Council, 
U.R. #4.) To Dr. C. B. Hastings and our Baptist brethren, 
I say: At long last, I am able to heed your invitation 
so warmly extended after that historical gathering 
February, 1971, at Daytona Beach, Florida. I am happy to 
be here . 

In rereading the proceedings of that regional con- 
ference of 1971, I wondered what further I could add. 
The topic assigned to me, "Spiritual Formation for Social 
Action," seemed to be answered in your discussions on 
Salvation , Its Meaning and Relation to Christian Social 
Responsibility . 

Nonetheless, in tackling the idea of spiritual 
formation, I thought of my experiences years ago as a 
young priest in St. Louis, Missouri, with the services 
of charity and social action carried on at the Missouri 
Baptist Hospital. I thought of the cordial relationships 
with the ministers, staff, and the priests who visited 
the Catholic patients. In contrast, I thought, also, of 
the almost consistent opposition on the part of our 
Southern Baptist citizens against any state support of 
private schools, a matter involving both freedom of 
choice as Christians as well as what many Catholics be- 
lieve to be a matter of basic justice - hopefully, 
matters to be calmly dialogued at another time. 

In seeking how to inaugurate our discussion, I 
thought immediately of the man from Missouri - the man 
from Independence - President Harry S. Truman; proud to 
profess his membership in the Southern Baptist Church, 
fearlessly professing his faith in God and in Christ, 
and totally dedicated to all men and the amelioration of 
society and social structures. 

One of our Catholic colleges has an annual Truman 
lecture. A few weeks ago the speaker, a renowned uni- 
versity president, devoted a few minutes to the man, 
Harry S. Truman, and his value system. The speaker 
quoted a man high in the counsels of our government, 
one who had been privileged to confer with a number of 


presidents during his long life of service. Other presi- 
dents might ask him, "What should I do as the best 
strategy in this situation? How can we attain this par- 
ticular goal?" Harry Truman, he said, asked only one 
question, and asked it consistently: "What is the right 
thing to do?" 

In my years in Kansas City, I have enjoyed two 
memorable visits with Harry Truman. The first was at a 
dinner of citations under the auspices of the National 
Conference of Christians and Jews. Grace had been 
offered before the dinner, and there followed in a very 
reverent manner the Pledge of Allegiance to Our Flag. 
The concluding words had just died, "One nation, under 
God, with liberty and justice for all," when, as we re- 
sumed our chairs, I heard the President soliloquize: 
"Would to God it were true!" I have often thought of 
those words since. There was a reverent reference to 
God, no doubt, in the President's mind as the source of 
all good. Then there was liberty - the cherished ideal 
of our founding fathers and of all true Americans, and 
a cherished tenet of all Baptists since the days of 
Roger Williams. Then there was justice for all - the 
end purpose for all social action. 

Before I leave this reminiscing on President 
Truman, I must tell you that in another brief statement 
during our conversation at table, the President unfolded 
for me Baptist ecclesiology . I hope no one takes offense 
at this - I, myself, have been a total abstainer for most 
of my life with the exception of a period during which I 
was advised as a newly ordained bishop to "take a little 
wine for my stomach's sake" and out of respect for 
European customs. More recently, I have resumed the 
practice of total abstinence, and I have written an 
exhortation to our people voluntarily to assume total 
abstinence for their own good, and as an example for 
those who are victims of alcohol. At any rate, it is 
commonly known that President Truman did not hesitate 
to take a pre-prandial potation. He referred to this at 
our conversation, and said to me, "You know the Baptists 
threatened to excommunicate me, but they couldn't. The 
only ones who could excommunicate me were my own congre- 
gation, and they wouldn't." I learned then how Baptists 
understand koinonia , or fellowship, or community, or the 
local church better than if I had listened to a long 
lecture on the subject. 

It was during that same dinner that I was a bit 
embarrassed when the President referred to the en- 
cyclical letter of Pope John XXIII, "Peace on Earth," 


for I had read excerpts of the letter in the press, 
but had not had time to pursue the entire document. 
The Presidend had; and he began to analyze it and 
praise it, saying very emphatically, "What the Pope 
says about basic rights and corresponding duties is 
the teaching that we need - the teaching perfectly 
in accord with the founding fathers who insisted 
that certain inalienable rights of all people come 
from the Creator." 

All of this made me realize that a Baptist, as 
a totally dedicated Christian, is formed in social 
action by free response to the word of God, by personal 
meditation an< 3 prayer thereon, and by listening to 
commentaries of others on that word, whether they be 
preachers or teachers. 

Thus formed, the Baptist Christian is necessarily 
led to witness his belief in works of charity and com- 
passion, and the works of justice for others. 

Frequently, today, we hear quoted the beautiful 
summary description of the Church as we find it in 
Acts 2:42: "They met constantly to hear the apostles 
teach and to share the common life, to break bread, 
and to pray." (New English Bible); or as the RSV 
Version puts it: "and they devoted themselves to the 
apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of 
bread and the prayers." 

For Catholics, spiritual formation begins when 
we are buried together with Christ in baptism unto His 
death, and rise to a newness of life. (Cf. Rom. 6:4.) 
This is our entrance into the koinonia or the communion, 
the common life referred to in Acts. This formation is 
furthered by the "breaking of the bread" or the Eucharist. 
But I must leave this to another presentation on Liturgy. 
I refer to it now simply because it is basic to under- 
standing a Catholic's appreciation of formation. 

Philip, fact to face with Christ in His human nature, 
was overjoyed at what he had heard about the Father, and 
asked to be shown the Father. Jesus answered simply, 
"Philip, have I been with you so long a time and have 
you not known me? Do you not know that he who sees me, 
sees the Father?" (John 14:9.) The human actions of 
Christ, as we study them in the Scriptures, produced 
divine effects of healing, reconciliation, joy and 
eternal life. Christ, we say, with modern theologians, 
is a Sacrament of God, and the koinonia , the fellowship 
of the Church, is a Sacrament of Christ. And the actions 


of the Church, signs of faith, not only signify, but 
actually produce what they signify. This is especially 
true of "the breaking of the bread." 

Holding firmly to our faith in one Eternal High 
Priest Jesus Christ Our Lord, as delineated in Hebrews, 
Catholics believe that all the baptized constitute a 
kingly, priestly people who offer spiritual sacrifices. 
But we also believe that the ordained minister, the 
priest, the bishop, and the deacon, have a share in the 
one priesthood of Christ that is different not only in 
degree, but in essence from that of the laity. Their 
duty as the ordained ministers is to serve the rest, and 
to be the instruments of their formation unto the likenes 
of Christ. This formation is their duty as ministers of 
the word: in the kerygma or heralding of the word, in 
the public proclamation of the good news; in their cate- 
chesis or explanation (their didache ) ; and in their 
counselling and guidance. 

This special role of the ordained ministers was 
recently reaffirmed in an address of Cardinal Terence 
Cooke, to the priests of the Archdiocese of New York: 
"Priests should be educated and thoughtful men. They 
should enjoy a full and humane range of interests in 
public affairs, in cultural, social, and intellectual 
questions, and in the lively issues that have ever made 
priests welcome advisors and good company to people in 
every station of life. Moreover, they cannot be ef- 
fective pastors of souls unless they pay attention to 
issues of civic and social importance to their people. 
But it is a disorder, and ultimately a destructive one, 
for a priest to devote himself exclusively to issues 
that are largely political or social, or even cultural 
or intellectual. If a priest becomes so totally pre- 
occupied with these issues, he will become distracted 
from the concentration on the pastoral and religious 
matters which must be central to his life and his 
vocation. People turn to us for religious wisdom . 

"Our people have a right to find in our rectories 
and our churches men who are devoted primarily to the 
work of religion and to the pastoral care of souls. 
This basic responsibility in no way conflicts with the 
other spiritual and social obligations I am about to 
discuss. We must be deeply occupied with certain public 
and social issues. We must work hard in the rectory, in 
church, and on the streets to solve them, but we must 
ever approach them as priests, mindful of our special 
religious standards and our religious motivation.... 


"Many major issues press us hard - abortion, be- 
cause of its moral imperative; parent aid, because of 
its present urgency; and vocations, because of their 
importance to church service. While we work strongly 
to resolve these questions, we must keep our balance. 
I mentioned earlier that priests who work regularly in 
social or academic areas must always approach their 
work as priests . Nor may their work become so pre- 
occupying that it excludes from their minds their 
primary obligation to religion. That requires balance 
of mind. It also takes balance to devote ourselves to 
pressing issues like abortion, parent aid, and vocations 
without neglecting all the other vitally important 
questions that require our attention. For example: 
the alienation of youth from religion, inadequate housing, 
poverty, racial injustice, child abuse, murder and 
violence in our streets , violence and war within and 
between nations, prison reform, refugees and immigrants, 
religious education, narcotics abuse, and many other 
critical questions that are known to you. . . . 

"The positive practical demands of priestly service 
you know as well as I do, but I point out to you that 
our people will suffer if we fail to use the opportunities 
that are offered to us for personal improvement in theo- 
logical knowledge and pastoral service. No man in a 
demanding, people-oriented vocation can continue to serve 
them well without regularly refreshing his mind and up- 
dating his basic information and his necessary studies." 

- (Current Trends in Cross and Crown . ) 

Now these are the words of an ordained minister who 
had special training in social work in addition to his 
priestly formation, and who for many years directed the 
vast complex of Catholic Charities and Social Action in 
the Archdiocese of New York, before he became Auxiliary 
Bishop and then Cardinal-Archbishop. 

A similar thought is expressed in the Synod of our 
own Diocese of Kansas City-Sti. Joseph in which the role of 
the ordained minister, by his preaching and teaching, is 
to form apostles of social action. The thought is there 
expressed that only in an emergency, and to supplement 
the lack of such lay apostles and witnesses, will the 
priest himself step into the work of social action and/or 
political action. In fact, the absence of such devoted 
laity should, the document states, be considered an in- 
dictment of the clergy in not performing their task of 
formation well. 

Just last month, in the February issue of the 


American Ecclesiastical Review , Monsignor George Higgins , 
a well known expert in the social teachings of the 
Church, observed some what at length that the role of 
the priests in the formation of a Christian for social 
action is that of teaching principles and giving spiritual 
direction. This should be his role in the pulpit. Out- 
side of the pulpit, in discussion periods and in dialogue, 
the practical application of these principles must be 
worked out so that the laity can have a chance to react 
and to express freely their views, especially when they 
may be conflicting views on political or social issues. 

The work of the ordained minister in forming 
Christians to social action can beautifully be expressed 
in the words of St. Paul to the Galatians : "My little 
children with whom I am again in labor until Christ be 
formed in you." (Gal. 4:19.) This formation into the 
likeness of Christ means putting on the mind and heart 
of Christ. Again Paul, in his Epistle to the Philippians, 
chapter 2, gives us the kenosis or emptying of self on 
the part of the eternal Word of God, and his taking on 
of the form of a slave, and his obedience unto death, the 
death of the cross - obedience which must be imitated in 
some way by the true Christian* The Catholic Christian 
is taught to meditate on the parable of the wheat and the 
tares, (Mt. 13:25 fol.) in order to appreciate that the 
Church in its pilgrimage on earth is a Church which 
embraces to its heart sinners. There must be the com- 
passion of Christ reaching out to the poor, the under- 
privileged, the sinful. As Christ was berated for 
welcoming sinners and eating with them, so, too, the 
Christian in social action. Indeed, as the Church of 
Christ, the Church is truly holy in the fullness of life 
of its Spouse, Christ our Lord, in His sinlessness, in 
the Gospel and all its ramifications. But its members 
are like Paul who cried out, "I see in my members a law 
fighting against the law of my mind, and leading me 
captive into sin*" (Rom* 7i21 fol.) Yet, like Paul, 
trusting in the all-powerful strength of Christ's grace, 
the Christian is formed to live in faith and trust, and, 
above all, in love and compassion. This formation again 
comes from the ministry of the word, but a ministry 
mediated, likewise, through the Sacrament of Penance, and 
also the anointing of the sick. (cf. L. G. II Vatican 
Council #8 . ) 

This spiritual formation of the Christian for social 
action, like the entire Christian life, must always be a 
matter of free response. This ideal so dear to the 
Baptist - has been spelled out as accurately as possible, 
in my estimation, in the beautiful "Declaration On Rel- 
igious Liberty" of the II Vatican Council* This document 
stresses that, while man must be free to follow his 


conscience and be coerced in no way to act against his 
conscience, either by individuals or by groups of in- 
dividuals, or society; nevertheless, it is the duty Of 
the ministers of the Church, of parents, and all en- 
gaged in education to help individuals form a right 
conscience. Hence, the importance of teaching what 
is right and pointing out what is wrong. (The key 
question referred to before in my remarks about 
President Truman*) Man's free will is a blind faculty. 
It must be informed and correctly informed, and formed. 
By his free response, aided by God's light and love, 
the individual Christian can reach heroic stature. 
Like Christ, who had joy set before him, chose the 
cross, and bearing his shame outside of the camp, 
suffered for us, and he learned obedience through what 
he suffered. (cf. Heb. 12:2 f ol . ) So, too, those 
formed unto the likeness of Christ are ready and will- 
ing to endure -suffering and death in their total love 
for God and in their love for their neighbor. 

In the 2000-year history of the Church, we see 
the highest witness - martyria - in those formed by 
the Word of God and responding with full Christian 
liberty and loyalty. Surely of this type must be 
judged the witness of Dr. Martin Luther King. In a 
similar vein must be judged the heroism of the monk 
who, according to the legend, leaped into the arena to 
highlight the evil of the pagan gladiatorial combats 
which had survived even long after the fall of pagan 
Rome. His death, we are told, led to the abolition 
of these horrible conflicts. History alone will be 
able to judge the Cattonsville nine, the Berrigan 
brothers, and others in their witness for peace. 
What we are inquiring is the formation that leads to 
such witness, such martrydom. 

No less heroic is the witness of those whom we 
called confessors of the faith - white martyrs, if 
you will - and not red martyrs of blood - men and 
women who, in the service of their fellow men, put 
aside all selfishness and self-seeking in order to 
be totally dedicated to the welfare of their fellow 
men . 

There is an interesting little book written by 
Dr. Mary Elizabeth Walsh under the supervision . of 
Monsignor Paul Hanly Furfey of the Catholic University. 
It is entitled, ,r The Saints and Social Work," and the 
theme is that those who were formed by God's word, 
sustained by the grace of our Lord, and totally given 
in love to Him and their neighbor, accomplished in- 
finitely more than ordinary social workers. She 
illustrates her thesis by the life and labors of 
twenty-five Christian heroes. 


In the formation for social action, there is always 
a problem of bridging the gap between what ought to be 
and what is. The documents of II Vatican Council, es- 
pecially those on the formation of priests and religious, 
and priestly life and ministry, try to bring out that 
the life of service must be the unifying factor. How- 
ever, it is clear that this service, if it is to be the 
dynamic force in a person's life, must be sustained by 
constant contemplation of the Word of God, docility to 
the Divine will, and, of course, the response of praise 
and prayer of petition. To this end, in Catholic 
circles, there has always been stress on what we call 
spiritual exercises - opportunities or intervals of 
prayer and silence daily, weekly, monthly, periodically 
- to reinforce the union of the Christian's mind and 
heart with the mind and heart of Christ. 

At the turn of the 2 0th Century, a book appeared 
entitled, "The Soul of the Apostolate," by a Benedictine 
monk of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance 
(Trappist ) , Dom J. B. Chautard. While considered by 
many to be too austere, the writings of Dom Chautard 
had and still have the approval of the highest authorities 
in the Catholic Church. In this treatise, works or 
activities on behalf of others are even termed, "cursed 
works" if they lead to activism in the sense that we 
have witnessed only too often in recent years. 

It is to be emphasized, as the II Vatican Council 
so clearly teaches, that the unifying factor in ministry, 
and likewise in social action, is the apostolic work 
itself flowing from a heart formed into the likeness of 
Christ; and, therefore, radiating Christ. 

The Pentecost experience transforming the apostles 
is perhaps the best description of spiritual formation 
for social action. The New Testament reveals that the 
first disciples of Christ were timid, selfish, vain- 
glorious, cowardly, and that they abandoned their 
Master in His time of greatest need. Yet, once con- 
verted and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they became 
selfless, brave men radiating Christ and leading their 
fellow men to repentance, healing, reconciliation and 
true koinonia . Initially and ultimately, it is the Holy 
Spirit who brings about the transformation into the 
likeness of Christ in the Christian. The role of those 
entrusted with spiritual formation will not be to impede 
the Holy Spirit, but to discern the spirit according 
to the outline given in First Corinthians, chapters 12, 
13 and 14, and, likewise, in the First Letter of John. 
All entrusted with the work of formation will be mindful 
that it is Christ who came to cast fire on the earth, 
and willed that it be enkindled. (cf. Lk. 12:49) 


The supreme test of true social action by Christians 
will always be charity. This does not mean that we 
despise the other charisms or gifts of the Holy 
Spirit so beautifully illustrated in the New Testament. 
It does mean that we must always keep first things 
first, the more excellent way - the way of charity. 
In this regard, we recall the .scribe who came to Jesus 
asking, "Which is the greatest commandment in the 
law?" We have the answer in Mark, chapter 12, verses 
28 and 34. Jesus answers in the shema : "Hear, oh 
Israel," the cry uttered to this day at the opening of 
every service in the Synagogue. "The Lord, thy God, 
is one. Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with thy 
whole heart, with thy whole soul, thy whole mind, and 
all thy strength." And Jesus added, "The second is 
like to this, that you love your neighbor as yourself." 
The scribe, touched by our Savior's reply, answered, 
"Indeed, such love is greater than sacrifice." We, 
of course, know of the strictures of the prophets 
against religious observances devoid of justice and 
charity. Piety or godliness, as Paul wrote to Timothy, 
is useful for all things* Having a promise of the 
light that now is and that which is to come, but a 
piety that does not nourish into charity, is not true 
godliness. (Cf. I Tim. 4:7-8.) 


Response to "Spiritual Formation for Social Action" 
The Reverend Henry E. Turlington 

It has been in no way surprising to me - or I think, 
to anyone here - to find so much in Bishop Helmsing's 
paper with which we all can so warmly concur. With all 
of you I too am grateful for the degree of unity which 
we have. We are mindful that this degree of unity draws 
its reality from God and the experience of the divine 
grace that we share. Perhaps we ought to affirm and 
acknowledge in good spirit the likelihood that some of 
our diversity is from the same source. It is basic to 
the nature of our faith that we have not merely a 
diversity of gifts from the one Spirit but that our lives 
be lived in reverent, responsible freedom. I must say 
how greatly I appreciated his emphasis on agape . 

Bishop Helmsing spoke so kindly of President Harry 
Truman, and how much he learned about Baptists from him. 

Many Baptists during his tenure as President were not 
so kind. Did we not have beams in our own eyes? Some 
were so conscious of the specks of bourbon, poker, and 
profanity in his practice of life that they did not 
appreciate the depths either of his commitment to God, 
or his understanding of justice and liberty and his re- 
markably firm adherence to the question "What is the 
right thing to do?" 

In connection with Bishop Helmsing's remarks, I 
cannot resist sharing my own brief experience with 
President Truman. It was shortly after my appointment 
by our Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board to teach 
in the University of Shanghai. I was in D. C. with a 
sizeable number of other missionaries, bent on helping 
in the spiritual formation - we didn't call it that - 
of Baptists in the Washington Area, in relation to their 
thinking about the propagation of the gospel in the 
world. President Truman received the group and spoke 
briefly to us. After reflectively referring to the respon- 
sibilities and importance of his own office, almost 
abruptly he turned and spoke of the extreme importance 
of the tasks we had accepted. He was persuaded that for 
the world nothing was so important as the work of God 
in man, and he blessed God for what we were seeking to 
do. He emphasized how he hoped for justice and for 
peace, lasting peace. From what he said in other words 
he believed that that hope of his depended heavily on 
what we are speaking of tonight, "Spiritual Formation 
for Social Action" 1 , and not only in the U. S. A., 
but throughout the world. 

In responding to the subject of the paper we have 


heard, my first reaction was to say, "Neither Baptists, 
nor Catholics, nor any other group can boast of over- 
whelming success in achieving in our people great 
Christian insight and maturity in the application of 
the gospel in society. The kingly court of our Lord is 
hardly overrun by disciples who have become great in 
their Christlike service. 

Walter Rauschenbusch , an early protagonist of what 
we call the "Social Gospel", and a Baptist minister, 
wrote once that, "It is possible to be a Baptist on 
small grounds or on large grounds... A near-sighted 
child was taken to the zoo and stood in front of the 
lion's cage. The lion's tail was hanging down through 
the bars. 'But I thought the lion was different,' 
said the child, 'it looks like a yellow rope.' So 
there are Baptists who have hitherto discovered only 
the tail end of our Baptist ideals and convictions, 
and it is no wonder that they turn out as narrow as 
the tail they devoutly believe in..." (Stealey, 
A Baptist Treasury , p. 164) 

In the parable of the soils Jesus said there were 
some seed that fell among the thorns. The interpretation 
which follows explains that there are people who hear 
the word, but the cares of the world choke off its impact 
on their lives. One of my friends at the Chapel Hill 
Ministers' Conference, which meets regularly at Newman 
Catholic Student Center, told of a very pious person, 
much moved by her faith, who had placed a sticker on 
her car bumper: "If you love Jesus, honk twice!" The 
minister drove up behind her as she was waiting at a 
stop light, and, responding to the sticker beeped 
twice. But the woman had not had a good day. She 
rolled down her window and shouted back at the horn- 
blower, "Can't you see the damned light is still red?" 

In the friendly and thoughtful paper we have heard, 
Bishop Helmsing has pointed out that the Baptist Christian 
learns to witness to his faith in works of charity, com- 
passion, and justice from three basic sources: 

(1) his free response to the word of God, 

(2) his personal meditation and prayer, and 

(3) the interpretations of the Christian life 

by preachers and teachers . 

Walter Rauschenbusch would hardly have denied the 
fundamental nature of these three elements. But he de- 
scribes what had been meaningful to him as a Baptist 
somewhat differently. 


(1) "The Christian faith as Baptists hold it sets 
spiritual experience boldly to the front as 
the one great thing in religion." He is re- 
ferring specifically to repentance, the inner 
assurance of forgiveness, the submission of 
man's self to God. (In "Why I Am a Baptist," 
quoted by Stealey, p. 166) "Faith in Christ," 
he writes of early Christians, "was a spiritual 
experience. Those who believed in him, felt 

a new spirit, the Holy Spirit, living in their 
hearts, inspiring their prayers and testimonies, 
melting away their selfishness, emboldening 
them to heroism." For Baptists, as this great 
Baptist leader in social action viewed his 
faith, there is ideally a minimum of emphasis 
on ritual and creed, and a maximum of emphasis 
on spiritual experience. But he confesses 
that some people called Baptist miss this 
truth, and insist, for example, on immersion 
in a purely legal and ritualistic spirit; and 
others who act as if we had and depended upon 
an iron clad creed with a 1000 points to in- 
sist everyone must adhere to. ( Ibid . , p. 169) 

(2) Religion demands social expression, and cannot 
come to its full strength and richness unless 
it is shared with others. He believes our 
church polity ideally is a great helper in 
this task. He speaks of the phrase which has 
become a sort of shibboleth with Baptists - 
separation of church and state. But the 
separation is not based on the idea that the 
spiritual life has nothing to do with the 
secular life. This would be "calamitous 
heresy." Separation was intended to do two 
things: (1) to keep the churches free from 
the heavy hands of men whose motives involved 
political or covetous consideration; and (2) 
to free the political life of a nation from 
disturbing ecclesiastical influences, especially 
from the control by the church over public 
income and political power. The concept of 
voluntariness, individual freedom, and re- 
sponsibility in matters of religion, led 
Baptists to this conclusion. 

Bishop Helmsing referred to the almost con- 
sistent opposition of Southern Baptist 
citizens to state support of private schools, 
and the conflict with what many Catholics 
believe to be a matter of basic justice. 
Perhaps it is our differing approach to 


spiritual formation for social action which 
has really tended to prevent our arriving at 
similar conclusions on the social and political 
question of public support of parochial schools. 

(3) Rauschenbusch emphasized also the importance of 

the concept of worship which he held as a Baptist. 
This involved personal meditation and prayer, 
as Bishop Helmsing indicated. But he points 
out how the simplicity and spiritual stimulation 
of corporate worship as experienced in many 
Baptist services is also a tremendous factor 
in spiritual formation. 

Perhaps we should mention separately one other 
factor which has played so large a part in Baptist 
thought. It is, for us, assumed in the other things 
mentioned. We have insisted on the central importance 
of the Bible and especially the New Testament, as our one 
sure and tangible guide for our faith. We sometimes have 
those who would treat the Bible as if it were God himself 
- but this is not a true Baptist position. We recognize 
no fixed and authoritative interpretation of its pages. 
But the Bible does call us back to acknowledge God's 
revelation of himself in history, the sort of justice 
and integrity he wants from his people, and his ultimate 
revelation and example and calling in his Son, our Lord. 

Bishop Helmsing has said that the Catholic Christian 
learns to witness to his faith in similar matters of 
social concern through 

(1) his experience of the sacraments of the church, 
especially Baptism, the Eucharist, and Penance; 

(2) the role of the priesthood (i.e., in addition 

to the ministry mediated through the sacraments): 

(a) Kerygma (proclamation of the word) 

(b) Katechesis (instruction) 

(c) counseling and guidance 

(3) the Catholic individual's own free response. 

I look forward with Bishop Helmsing to the pre- 
sentation on the liturgy. I was especially interested 
in his brief comment on baptism, saying that the 
Catholic's spiritual formation begins here. Baptists, 
I think, have learned the importance of Christian teach- 
ing and example in earliest childhood. The reference 
to Timothy's sterling religious heritage from his mother 
and grandmother reinforce this attitude (2 Tim. 1:5). 
But there are a multitude of other forces at work in the 
person also. We would mark the beginning of the 
Christian's formation at baptism: not because important 
influences have not already had their impact, but be- 
cause he is baptized at the time of his voluntary 


confession of faith and his personal commitment to 
the life in Christ. His baptism means that he turns 
from every other allegiance to obey the Lord Jesus. 
His baptism in water is a forceful and memorable ex- 
pression of his entry into the Christian life to pursue 
the newness of life in the Christian calling. 

Baptists have always acknowledged the importance 
of the role of the clergy in the spread of the gospel 
and the life of our congregations. We have generally 
insisted again on a personal response to convincing 
spiritual experience and guidance as prerequisite to 
entering the ministry. The candidate for ordination 
is expected to achieve some degree of excellence in his 
understanding and affirmation of the gospel; he must 
have a lofty concept of the inspiration of the scriptures; 
he should have gifts that enable him to communicate 
his faith. 

At the ordination examinations I have attended 
there have always been questions raised about the 
social application of the gospel. But on this point 
it has usually been the candidate's approach to the 
question, and not his specific application, that has 
been influential with the ordination councils. We 
are more determined, I think, to maintain the indi- 
vidual's responsibility and freedom in the application 
of the gospel than to insist on any given viewpoint 
for social action. 

On the other hand we do not give to our clergy 
nearly so great authority in our churches as that 
described by the Bishop. It is not simply that the 
Baptist individual (like the Catholic) must give his 
own free response. In the congregation the pastor is 
also a member. He has one vote, just as every other 
member has one vote. His share in the priesthood of 
Christ is not thought of as differing in essence from 
the ministry of any layman. He does, naturally, have 
larger responsibilities in study, teaching and guidance: 
but we believe that all Christians alike are called to 
ministry. This involves a calling to every Christian 
to grow toward spiritual maturity in all ways, including 
those directed toward social action. 

Findley Edge, who has been teaching at our Southern 
Baptist Seminary in Louisville for almost 30 years, 
recently wrote a provocative book titled "The Greening 
of the Church." Recognizing the difficulties of the 
church and speaking of renewal, he asserts two things: 
(1) "the church is facing problems because its work is 
being done primarily by the wrong people. (2)... the 
church is experiencing difficulty because its work is 

being done in the wrong place." (p. 38) It is readily 
apparent that he means we ought not to seek to do the 
work of the church primarily in the church's own 
buildings . 

But his principal point - and it is printed in 
italics - is that "the primary responsibility for God's 
ministry in the world is the responsibility of the laity 
and not the clergy" (p. 39). He cites I Peter 2:5,9: 
"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual 
house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices 
acceptable to God by Jesus Christ... Ye are a chosen gen- 
eration, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar 
people: that he should show forth the praises of him 
who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous 
light." The letter is addressed not to clergy but to 
the scattered Christians of provinces in Asia Minor, 
with no distinction made between clergy and laity. The 
spiritual sacrifice the priest-Christian must offer is 
patterned after that of Jesus: he offers himself, just 
as the Great High Priest offered himself. 

What is the task, then, of the clergy? It is at 
one with that of the laity, insofar as being a Christian 
in the world is concerned. We are all alike, called to 
the ministry of Christ. But the minister is, to use 
Elton Trueblood's phrase, called to be a kind of "player- 
coach" for all the people of God. He keeps calling them 
to the spirit of Jesus. 

The insight of T. W. Manson is relevant at this 
point. He rightly sees that Jesus understands his own 
life as the Servant of God; the Messiah is God's 
servant par excellence . His work is God's ministry in 
the world. It is a ministry that comes "to help the 
helpless, to release the captives, to seek and to save 
the lost... It is the constant unwearied giving of divine 
service to men in body, mind, and spirit." ( The Church ' s 
Ministry , Hodder and Stoughton, p. 18). Accordingly, 
the career of our Lord reaches its climax when he gives 
himself, a ransom for many, laying down his life for his 
friends . 

This pattern for life becomes at once the norm for 
all the followers of Christ. This is to be true of indi- 
viduals, but (as Manson insists) it is true too of the 
corporate body, the whole of the people of God. To him, 
the life of the church is a continuation of the Messianic 
ministry . 

Let us examine one passage in Ephesians 4: 

11. And his gifts were that some should be apostles, 
some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors 
and teachers, 

12. for the equipment of the saints, for the work of 
ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 

13. until we all attain to the unity of the faith 
and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature 
manhood, to the measure of the stature of the 
fullness of Christ; 

14. so that we may no longer be children, tossed to 
and fro and carried about with every wind of 
doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their 
craftiness in deceitful wiles. 

15. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to 
grow up in every way into him who is the head, 
into Christ , 

16. from whom the whole body, joined and knit to- 
gether by every joint with which it is supplied, 
when each part is working properly, makes bodily 
growth and upbuilds itself in love. 

For our understanding of spiritual formation for 
social action this passage provides a most fruitful 
exposition . 

God has given his people many varied gifts, to be 
used in his service. For those granted certain special 
gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers) 
there was a special further purpose. The RSV (and the 
AV) has it, "for the equipment of the saints, for the 
work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." 
But the original does not have the commas that would 
make this a threefold task of the designated clergy. 
The task is really one, as NEB translators have recognized 
the gifts are bestowed "to equip God's people for work in 
his service, to the building up of the body of Christ." 
The special ministry of the clergy is for the purpose of 
equipping the laity for the ministry they are to fulfil. 
And the clergy are never divorced from this ministry of 
the laity. They are partners in it. And the aim of 
all is toward mature manhood in Christ. 


"The Authority for Faith" 
The Reverend Dale Moody 

Authority is a suspect word in current theology. 
Much of this is due to its association with authori- 
tarianism and claims of infallibility, but it does 
not seem that authority can be escaped in any field 
of knowledge. In the smallest matter we accept 
authority on sufficient evidence, and religious faith 
is no exception. It is not a question of whether 
there is authority but of which authority is supreme. 

In the effort to bring this into focus for pre- 
sent discussions of Christian differences and to make 
some proposal toward the unity of the faith, a two- 
fold approach will be made. First of all, an analysis 
of authority as represented by conflicting Christian 
traditions will be made, then there will be the 
application of these conclusions to some problems that 
prolong schism in the body of Christ. In all that is 
said there is the basic assumption that it is the will 
of God for "the unity of the Spirit" to be manifest in 
"the unity of the faith" (Eph. 4:3, 13). 

An Analysis of Authority 

In the search for authority in Christian faith 
three major positions have developed. The first is 
the authority of the Spirit . One can never get to the 
roots of Christian origins until this new power of the 
Spirit is noted. In what is generally regarded the 
first document of the New Testament, an early Christian 
hymn exhorts (1 Thess. 5:17-21): 

Without ceasing, pray! 

In all things, give thanks! 
The Spirit, do not quench it! 

Prophecy, do not despise it! 
All things, prove them! 

The good, hold to it! 

Before New Testament churches were institutionalized 
and the New Testament writings were canonized this was 
the major perspective. Of course they had the Old 
Testament, but without the authority of the Spirit the 
first Christians would have remained Jews or proselytes. 

The first effort to write "the story of salvation" 
in Christ and his church, the Acts of the Apostles, has 
been rightly called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Even 
the Gospel of Luke, the former treatise that precedes 


Acts, is a Gospel of the Spirit. Luke-Acts represents 
the Pentecost tradition. The promises of the Old Testa- 
ment begin to be fulfilled in the death and resurrection 
of Jesus, and the witness to this is the gift of the 
Spirit. "Being therefore exalted at the right hand of 
God, and having received from the Father the promise of 
the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see 
and hear" (Acts 2:33. Cf. 5:32). 

This is even more pronounced in the Paraclete 
tradition of the Fourth Gospel. The longest hymn pre- 
served in the New Testament is the great hymn on the 
Paraclete as the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17; 25f.; 

When the Spirit of truth comes , 

he will guide you into all the truth, 

for he will not speak on his own authority, 

but whatever he hears he will speak (16:13a). 

This is sufficient to illustrate the importance of the 
authority of the Spirit, but it should not be assumed 
that the disciples of New Testament times accepted all 
claims to spiritual guidance. 1 John 4: 1-6 is enough 
to dispel this notion. 

The generations that followed saw a decline in this 
type of authority. The clergy, the canon, and the creed 
became more and more central, but the upsurges of 
Montanism and mysticism indicate how hard it was to 
quench the Spirit . The authority of the Spirit has sur- 
vived to find its clearest expression in the Quaker 
movement. According to Robert Barclay, an educated 
friend of George Fox, even the Scriptures must be es- 
teemed as "a secondary rule, subordinate to the Spirit 
from which they have all their excellency and certainty." 

The second search for authority made the church 
supreme. The authority of the historical Jesus was trans 
f erred to the church as a historical institution. The 
Acts of the Apostles indicated that the things Jesus 
" began to do and to teach" in the days of his flesh were 
continued in the church after the disciples were baptized 
by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1). The authority of the 
church came from this continuous action of Christ through 
his disciples. 

1 An Apology for the True Christian Divinity 
(Philadelphia: Friends Book Store, 1675) , pp. 14f . 


Since the twelve apostles were the link between 
the historical Jesus and the church, the authority of 
the church took the form of apostolic authority. The 
apostles were the spokesmen for the church in the early 
days of the Jerusalem church. The Fourth Gospel, with 
all its emphasis on the Spirit of truth, made much of 
the reception of the Spirit by the disciples on the 
first day of the resurrection. Jesus said: "Peace be 
with you. As the Father had sent me, even so I send 
you" (20:21). Then: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If 
you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if 
you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (20:23). 

Apostolic authority in Matthew's Gospel was 
focused more sharply on Peter. Debate still rages on 
whether the petra of Matt. 16:18 has reference to Peter, 
Peter's faith, or Christ. Oscar Cullmann's detailed 
study of Peter concludes that it has reference to Peter. 
Even a Protestant as conservative as William Sanford 
LaSor, of Fuller Theological Seminary, accepts this con- 
clusion. 3 A good argument can still be made for the 
petra being Christ, as in 1 Cor. 10:4 and 1 Pet. 2:7, 
but this is not the major point of debate. 

The crucial matter for many Protestants is not 
apostolic authority, even the apostolic authority of 
Peter in the primitive church. Apostolic succession, 
i.e. the claim of the Papacy that the keys of Peter 
were transmitted to the long succession of the Roman 
Bishops, is to be distinguished from apostolic author- 
ity. Could there by any s uccessors to the apostles as 
eyewitnesses of the historical revelation? This 
question was sharpened by the claims of primacy and 
infallibility in the developing church. 

The claim of Rome to speak with the authority of 
the Spirit goes back to the end of the first century. 
Clement of Rome, writing about A. D. 95, warns Corinth: 
"But if any disobey the words spoken by him through us , 
let them know that they involve themselves in trans- 
gression and no small danger" (59). They are later 
called to obedience to what was "written through the 
Holy Spirit" (63), but there is no doubt that the 

Peter: Disciple , Apostle , Martyr , Second Edition, 
tr. Floyd V. Filson (Philadelphia: The Westminster 
Press, 1962). 

3 _ 
Great Personalities of the New Testament (Westwood, 

N. J.: Fleming H. Revell , 1961), p. 87. 

2 8 

authority of Rome is supported by the claim that both 
Peter and Paul died the martyr's death there (5). 
This authority is a dominant tradition in the first 
five centuries. 

Papal primacy is not yet a claim of papal in- 
fallibility. Many Protestants would be able to 
accept Rome as a primatial see, even as the most 
honored see of Christendom if it were not for the 
claims of Pius IX in A.D. 1870. The claim brushes 
aside even the consent of the Church, for the "defi- 
nitions of the Roman Pontiff of themselves--and not 
by virtue of the consent of the Church--are irreform- 
able." This has now a century later made problems for 
progressive Roman Catholics as well as for Protestants. 
It is now common knowledge that Charles Davis made his 
decision to leave the Roman Catholic Church while in 
turmoil over this problem. Papal infallibility is 
more of a problem for Christian unity than the Marian 
dogmas. The Marian dogmas of 18 54 and 19 5 are hardly 
problems for Eastern Orthodoxy as they are for Protes- 
tants, but papal infallibility they are not likely to 
accept . 

Vatican II has put the authority of the whole 
Church of God in a new perspective. For nearly a 
thousand years East and West have disputed their rival 
claims. For nearly five hundred years Protestants have 
protested what they believed were abuses and errors of 
Rome. The last generation has raised the questions of 
life and death. Must a solution be found for this 
family feud in the household of God? Some are terrified 
at the very thought that these bleeding wounds should 
be healed. These defensive attitudes are to be found 
in all camps. Some Roman Catholics have built in re- 
sistance against all Protestants and some Protestants, 
would fall flat if Roman resistance ceased. 

A third search for authority exalted the Scriptures 
above all claims of personal inspiration and all ec- 
clesiastical pronouncements, conciliar or papal. At 
the very beginning of the church there was no serious 
doubt about the authority of the Old Testament. It is 

4 E . Giles, Documents Illustrating Papal Authority 
(London: S.P.C.K. , 19 52 ) . 


not only Mark and Matthew that assume this in their 
Gospels, but the more Gentile Gospels of Luke and John 
are firm on this (Luke 16:31; 24:44-49; John 5:39). 

The question of the New Testament canon was a 
central issue in the struggle against Gnosticism in the 
second century, but this was over by the fourth. 
Athanasius spoke of the authority of the twenty-seven 
books of the New Testament in his Paschal letter of 367, 
and this was quickly confirmed by Jerome in the East 
and the Synod of Carthage in the West in 391. 

The canon of the Old Testament did not become a 
problem until the Reformation. Marcion had rejected 
the whole Old Testament in the second century, but this 
was soon considered heresy. Luther segregated the 
apocrypha in his German Bible, but the Geneva Bible 
eliminated the apocrypha altogether. F. D. E. 
Schleiermacher suggested the relegation of the whole 
Old Testament to an appendix, but the Old Testament 
with the apocrypha has returned in the Revised Stand- 
ard Version. 

The problem of the Old Testament canon is hardly 
an issue for critical scholarship in both Roman Catholic 
and. Protestant thought. Both the Jerusalem Bible , 
the fruit of Roman Catholic labor, and the Oxford 
Annotated Bible with its representative Protestant 
perspective may be purchased with the Apocrypha, and 
the notes are surprisingly the same. When the joint 
Catholic-Protestant Bible is published, the Bible may 
become the broadest base of all for brotherly relations. 

The problem that remains for conservative 
Protestantism is the acceptance of critical scholar- 
ship. If one assumes that critical scholarship has won 
the day, he will be surprised on the reception given the 
New Scof ield Reference Bible that goes forth with the 
blessing of Billy Graham. We are told that Moses 
wrote the whole Pentateuch about 1450-1410 B.C. It is 
even suggested that Moses could have written the account 
of his own death in advance! On the very page where 
the "first" and "second" covenants are set forth in 
Heb. 8 there is a note on the eight covenants (p. 1317). 
One can hardly expect critical study from those unable 
to count! 

This illustrates how difficult it is to use the 
Scriptures as supreme authority when there is so much 
difference between the critical and the conservative 
approaches to the contents. It is all but impossible 
for one using the New Scof ield Reference Bible to come 
to any broad agreement with those who agree with the 


basic conclusions of the Oxford Annotated Bible . 
Both may agree on the formal statement that the 
Scriptures are supreme on all matters of faith and 
even order, but their application of this statement 
will have different results. The battle of the Bible 
is still a crucial question for conservative 

Even where there is general agreement on the canon 
and composition of the Bible the conflict with ecclesi- 
astical tradition remains. The Scriptures belong to 
tradition too, but this is apostolic tradition ♦ The 
real conflict is between this apostolic tradition 
canonized in the New Testament and later ecclesi - 
astical tradition that either distorts biblical faith 
Ey majoring on minors or deviates altogether from New 
Testament teaching, 

In Roman Catholic theology the Marian doctrine of 
perpetual virginity and the dogmas of immaculate con- 
ception (1854) and bodily assumption (1950) are 
examples. Conservative Protestants are too prone to 
assume that Luther or Calvin or Wesley can only be 
reinterpreted but never rejected. Too many think 
they can only be misunderstood, but they are never 
mistaken. Evangelical Protestants do much the same 
with Fundamentalism. My own denomination has a large 
group of people who will break fellowship over the 
five points of Landmarkism, none of which are in 
Scripture, then they will set themselves against the 
very words of the Bible. 

All three searches for the seat of authority 
point to Christ, and each is incomplete without him 
at the center. The Spirit enables one to confess 
Jesus as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), but the Spirit himself is 
not the authority for faith. He bears witness to Christ, 
not himself (John 15:26). For he will not speak on his 
own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak 
(16:13). He who puts the authority of the Spirit above 
the authority of Christ has reversed directions. 

The role of the church is to be the body of Christ 
and to bear witness to the Head who is Christ. All who 
are in Christ are in the body of Christ, and no denomi- 
nation or any other group of members has the right to 
say they alone constitute the body of Christ. The body 
is to manifest the manifold wisdom of God, not to 
magnify her own authority and rights in the world 
(Eph. 3:10). 

The sole seat of authority belongs to Christ, 


and to this the Scriptures bear witness. Scripture 
is indeed inspired by the Spirit, but the Scriptures 
point to Christ. Jesus himself, speaking of the Old 
Testament, said (John 5:39f.): 

You search the scriptures, 

because you think in them you have eternal life; 
and it is they that bear witness to me; 

yet you refuse to come to me that you have life. 

As then, so now, he who puts the Scriptures in the place 
of Christ misses the life found in Christ. 

Spirit, Church, Scripture—these three—are all 
subordinate to him who said (Matt. 28:18-20): 

All authority has been given to me 

in heaven and on earth 
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations 

in my name [short form] 
Teaching them to observe all 

that I commanded you; 
and lo , I am with you always, 

to the close of the age. 

Yet we will not be able to discern his authority unless 
the Scriptures are put above subjective claims of the 
present and objective traditions of the past. 

Application of Authority 

Many of the barriers that hinder Christian unity 
are in the area of ecclesiology . There are other 
problems, but four in the field of ecclesiology are 
here singled out for consideration. They are the Church, 
the ministry, baptism, and the Lord's Supper. 

Studies on the church in the twentieth century have 
developed in two major stages. Until the last few years 
the discussion has been on the nature of the church, and 
a large amount of agreement has resulted. The Realm of 
Redemption by J. Robert Nelson, first published in 1951, 
has compiled much of the results reached. By 19 53 
Leslie Newbigin, in his little classic on The Household 
of God (19 54) , was able to bring the Protestant, 
Catholic and Pentecostal views of the church into a 
synthesis that many would accept. To speak of the 
church now as the people of God, the body of Christ, and 
the fellowship of the Spirit is to express views that 
only the obstinate obscurantist cares to dispute. 

3 2 

Ecumenical dialogue has produced an interesting 
shift of emphases. Protestants, once shy of the body 
of Christ metaphor as a Roman Catholic characteristic, 
have come to put most stress on this very point. Roman 
Catholics on the other hand, in their new openness 
toward their "separated brethren," tend more and more 
to think of the church as the people of God. All this 
is to be welcomed, especially when both Protestants and 
Catholics take note of that "third force" in the 
Church that may be called the Pentecostal concern with 
the Holy Spirit . 

The problem of the present has turned toward that 
which a renowned Roman Catholic, Hans Kung, has called 
the Structures of the Church (1962). This raises again 
the debate on whether the structures are to be con- 
gregational, presbyterial , or episcopal. An application 
of the Scriptures to this question does not yield three 
different structures but three different stages. 

If one begins with the first church, the church of 
Jerusalem, a good argument for Congregationalism may be 
made if one does not go beyond the Upper Room! Con- 
gregationalism has talked as if the Church never got 
beyond one hundred and twenty souls in one room. This 
hardly lasted when there were three thousand, five 
thousand, then a great multitude in the one church of 
Jerusalem. Obviously they met in many rooms in many 
houses of worship, but they never thought of but one 
church. The very term "churches of Jerusalem" would 
have sounded strange. One could speak of "the churches 
of Judea" (Gal. 1:22) but not of "the churches of 
Jerusalem. " 

It soon becomes clear that the one church in 
Jerusalem had many meeting places, many elders, and 
one general overseer in James (Acts 11:30; 12:17). 
This presbyterial structure was reproduced by Barnabas 
and Saul in the new churches which they established 
(Acts 14:23). The Hellenistic Jewish letters which 
we call James (5:14), 1 Peter (5:1-4), and Hebrews 
(13:7, 17, 2 4) have much the same structure. This does 
not mean that one congregation had many elders , but 
that the one church of several congregations had many 
elders or leaders or rulers. 

All churches seemed to start as house churches 
or Christian synagogues, but they soon developed into 
a presbyterial structure with one church to a city 
with many elders to look after the many meetings. 
Before the end of the New Testament an episcopal 
structure has been added to the congregational and 
presbyterial, added not supplanted. James was a 


bishop in Jerusalem in all but name. It is beyond 
question that Timothy was more than just one of the 
many elders in Ephesus (1 Tim. 4:14; 5:17-22). 

It is when the bishop of one church claims authori- 
ty over the bishop of another church that development 
goes beyond the New Testament. However, there was a 
certain primacy of Jerusalem and James as Acts 15 in- 
dicates. The primacy of Rome is a later claim grow- 
ing out of circumstances, but the long years of 
growth and mission into all the world raises serious 
doubts even in Roman Catholic minds as to how much 
primacy should be retained today. All this is to 
focus the question of structure. There is no dogmatic 
solution claimed. 

The ministry of the church follows logically from 
this survey of the nature and structure of the church. 
The relationship between the charismatic ministry of 
all members of Christ's one mystical body parallels 
the nature of the church as the place of an official 
ministry parallels the structure of the church. 

It is often said that Paul's view of ministry was 
charismatic. This is certainly dominant in his letters, 
especially in 1 Cor. and Ephesians, but there is more. 
The charismatic hymn in 1 Thess. 5:17-21, already 
quoted, appears in a context of conflict between the 
official and charismatic functions in the church. This 
was indeed a church of "brethren" (5:12, 14), as was 
the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17), but it was not with- 
out official leaders, proistamenoi (rulers) they were 
called. The rulers of the synagogue were presbuteroi 
(elders), so the kindred word proistamenoi , "those 
who labor among you and are over you in the Lord" 
(5:12), is used in the church of Thessalonica . 

The most developed stage of an official ministry 
in the Pauline tradition is not found until the Pastoral 
Epistles. The question of authorship is not the crucial 
question as long as these writings are accepted as 
canonical and at least in the Pauline tradition. There 
is the epicipe (office of bishop) and one episcopos 
(bishop) for the first time. Up until this point 
bishops and presbyters (elders) are apparently synonyms. 
It may be so here, but Timothy is certainly a pre- 
siding elder who sees that the elders get paid, re- 
buked for their sins, and ordained by the laying on 
of hands (1 Tim. 5:17-22). There are also deacons 
and even an order of widows who take a pledge 
(1 Tim. 3:8-13; 5:9-16). 

No plea is here being made for an official ministry 


that reproduces all the details of the first century, 
but it is difficult to understand those who zealously 
proclaim the New Testament as the only rule of faith 
and order and who adapt so readily to secular substitutes 
with associations and executive secretaries, the first 
coming from the seventeenth century and the second from 
the nineteenth. The claim that the New Testament order 
is valid only in the local congregation is untenable. 
The so-called Free Church tradition assumes all too 
easily that the Congregationalism of the sixteenth 
century and afterward recovered all the order in the 
New Testament. This is difficult to defend on the 
grounds of the New Testament. Too often we in America 
confuse New England with the New Testament. We must 
be reminded constantly that the great kairos is in 
the first century, not in the sixteenth, seventeenth, 
or any other. 

The present situation becomes acute at this point. 
Many are rediscovering the New Testament theology of 
the laity, the ministry of the whole people of God 
in the world. Roman Catholics have experienced a 
striking renewal in this regard, and in this we per- 
sonally rejoice. Friends of mine who are Roman 
Catholic laymen have rejoiced in this new recognition 
that the clergy is not the whole church . At times I 
have even cautioned them not to overdo the work of 
the laity! 

Caution grows out of evidence that an unhealthy 
anticlerical ism has taken hold of many Protestant 
groups. This has resulted in a bad image for the 
clergy and serious hesitation of youth to respond to 
even deep conviction that God calls them to a clerical 
vocation . Much of this may be due to the conduct 
and quality of the clergy, but this should be 
corrected. It will not be well when those with the 
finest character and keenest minds no longer accept 
the kleros of the laos of God. The sheep will surely 
stray from the fold. All members are ministers, but 
every group develops some type of leadership. Even 
among brethren there are always "big brothers" or 
"weighty friends." 

This gets around to the rather vague theology 
of ordination that dominates many so-called brethren 
or believers groups. In panic from any signs of a 
special priestly class and the untenable claims of 
apostolic succession, both of which are here rejected, 
ordination to an official task in the church has 
become questionable, even suspect. The book on 
Ordination and Christian Unity by E. P. Y. Simpson, 


published in 1967 by Judson Press, has surveyed the 
situation from a point of view held by some Baptists, 
but his solution is far from satisfactory. Here, 
however, the renewed discussion may begin. 

Baptism, which was intended to be a sign of unity, 
has often become the cause of division. If the authori- 
ty of Scripture is accepted as standard, some progress 
toward unity can be made. If subjective judgment 
and ecclesiastical tradition are put above Scripture, 
divisions will continue. There is more agreement today 
on the meaning and mode of baptism in apostolic times 
than there has been since primitive times. It may help 
to summarize both, but again discord may be created. 
I hope not . 

If evidence from the New Testament is gathered 
together a group of major and a group of minor mean- 
ings of baptism may be classified. The major mean- 
ings are purification, identification and incorporation. 
The term purification is used in both its ceremonial 
and moral meanings. Baptism arose as a ceremony to 
remove the ceremonial uncleanness of Gentile proselytes 
coming over to Judaism. In Qumran Jews baptized them- 
selves daily to wash away uncleanness. These are 
called Daily Baptists! 

Ceremonial purification became moral with the re- 
pentance baptism of John the Baptist. His baptism 
was "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of 
sins" (Mark 1:4). In the preaching of Peter in Acts 
2:38 and in the baptism of Paul in Acts 22:16 this 
meaning is continued, but this is not the distinctive 
teaching in Acts. 

The distinctive teaching in Acts is identification 
with Jesus Christ. The term identification is used to 
describe baptism "in the name of Jesus Christ" 
C 2 : 38 ; 9:48) or "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (8:16; 
19:5). Baptism was a sign that those baptized belonged 
to the one in whose name they were baptized. This is 
indicated most clearly in Paul's preachings (1 Cor. 
1:13-15), but this is not Paul's distinctive view. 

Paul's distinctive view is incorporation into 
Christ or into the body of Christ. "For as many of 
you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" 
(Gal. 3:27). "For by one Spirit we were baptized 
into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13). Radical distinctions 
between water baptism and Spirit baptism were not made 
by Paul, as in rationalistic dualism later, but of 
course Spirit baptism was primary. Water baptism 


without Spirit baptism would be mere ceremony with no 
dynamic. The profoundest baptismal theology in the 
New Testament is the great hymn in Rom. 6:1-11. There 
those baptized are said to be grafted ( sumphutoi ) 
into Christ (6:5). 

Minor meanings of baptism found in the New Testa- 
ment are indicated by the words regeneration, illumination, 
and salvation. Another baptismal hymn, found in Titus 
3:4-7, speaks of "the washing of regeneration" (3:5), 
and this is generally thought to have reference to 
baptism. The washing does not automatically effect 
regeneration, but it is a sign of regeneration when 
rightly received. It is rightly received by faith. 

Baptism as illumination was the understanding of 
Justin Martyr in the second century (Apol. 61, 65), 
and this may be the idea behind the term in Hebrews 
(6:4; 10:32). Baptism was a sign that one had passed 
out of darkness into the light of the Lord. 

Baptism as a sign of salvation appears as a comment 
in the midst of the baptismal hymn in 1 Pet. 3:18, 22. 
"Baptism, which corresponds to this [Noah's flood], 
now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body 
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience by the 
resurrection of Jesus Christ" (3:21). This is one of 
the clearest distinctions between outward sign and 
inward reality, between ceremony and conscience. 

The modes of baptism has been studied carefully 
in recent years , and there are some general agree- 
ments here too. Self-immersion was the mode in both 
orthodox baptism of proselytes and the more sectarian 
baptism of Qumran. John's baptism was no doubt by 
immersion, but there is no evidence as to how it was 
performed. Single immersion was continued in Acts, 
but the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch was administer- 
ed by a deacon, Philip (8:38). Triune immersion was 
administered from the second century, and this is the 
mode in the East until this day. 

Triune immersion continued in the West, but the 
practice of clinical baptism as a secondary form by 
triune pouring became equal to immersion at the council 
of Vienne in 1311. After that many variations dev- 
eloped in the West, and it is only in recent times 
that efforts have been made to reform theology and 
practice on a large scale. If there is to be a unity 
in "one baptism" this problem must be reexamined in 
the light Scripture gives on tradition. I have tried 
to make a beginning in my book on Baptism : Founda - 
tion for Christian Unity , published by Westminster 
Press in 1967. 


Much has been said about "the believing church", 
and this indeed needs definition. A beginning may be 
made with "believers' baptism." All traditions that 
practice baptism profess to believe in believers' 
baptism. Roman Catholics, building on Augustine's 
doctrine of infant guilt and practicing infant baptism, 
locate faith in the church, not in the infant or the 
parents . 

Luther retained both the belief in infant guilt 
and the practice of infant baptism, but this was 
greatly modified by his doctrine of justification by 
faith. Out of this came the distinctive Lutheran 
doctrine of infant faith, a view that still appears 
in Lutheran writings. 

Reformed theology has a theology of the Covenant 
child that presumes that all children born of a Christian 
household are regenerated, so infants are baptized not 
in order to be regenerated but because they are re- 
generated. Infant regeneration fills the place in 
Calvinism that infant faith does in Lutheranism. 

Anglican theology has moved away from the 
Augustinian theology, so the Baptismal Reform Move- 
ment and others have promoted the view of primitive 
wholeness that calls for a service of dedication and 
blessing for Christian children coming before in- 
struction and a conscious confession of faith. 

Believers ' churches can learn much from this 
theology and practice, and they can add much vitality 
to it . A unity of the two traditions will give 
strength to both. Groups that baptize pre-ado- 
lescent children are pushed into paedobaptism by the 
lack of a theology and practice that clarifies the 
status of the Christian child. 

The Lord's Supper was also intended to be a sign 
of unity, but it too has become a scandal and led to 
schism. It has caused some to discard all sacra- 
mental practice along with the rejection of all clergy, 
but this is not the way to restore New Testament faith 
and practice. A reverent restudy of the whole problem 
is the right way. The state of the question may be of 
some help. 

The sources of the Lord's Supper reach back to 
the meals Jesus had with his disciples during the 
days of his flesh and the Last Supper at the last 
Passover he had with them. One may generalize by 
saying that Love Feast plus Last Supper equals Lord's 
Supper. This is the picture that appears in 1 Cor. 

3 8 

11:17-34, although there is only a communion with the 
loaf and the cup in 1 Cor. 10:16f. 

The significance of the Lord's Supper is in- 
dicated by the words used* In reference to the present 
it is a thanksgiving (a eucharist) and a communion 
in reference to both God and man. As a covenant 
and as a remembrance it is a link with the past event 
of the death and resurrection of our Lord. It also 
points to the future as it is linked with the kingdom 
of God and the coming of Christ in glory. 

The service of the Lord's Supper has ranged all 
the way from the simple order described in 1 Cor. 11 
to the elaborate mass of Roman Catholics. The one 
cup and one loaf have been modified by most traditions, 
and the restoration of the basic forms requires much 
reform. Any approach that is rigid is likely to 
shatter the service even more. Radical innovations 
are not likely to be helpful either. Here is an area 
in which patience and understanding are at a premium, 
and the teachings of the Scripture will need to be put 
above all denominational traditions. 

All four of the areas sketched have potential 
for both unity and schism, but the purpose of this 
survey has been to give a setting by which divisions 
can be healed. This healing will require many con- 
tacts and much discussion among all who are eager to 
maintain "the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of 
peace." Brethren groups and believers churches have 
suffered much from isolation from one another and 
lack of contact with other Christians. Historical 
circumstances help to understand why this is the case, 
but the time has come for more contact between sepa- 
rated brethren, even our brethren who today may seem 
far away. 

Until recently those who are "near" have generally 
required that those "far away" agree fully in doctrine 
and practice before there is intercommunion. On such 
grounds interdenominational conferences will need to 
wait a long while before the visible symbol of our 
unity in Christ becomes evident. It may be that less 
rigidity at this point would help not only the so-called 
believers' churches but all churches to draw near to 
that unity for which we all so fervently pray. 


Response to "The Authority for Faith" 
The Reverend Monsignor Bernard F. Law 

It may be helpful, before addressing myself 
specifically to Dr. Dale Moody's remarkably excell- 
ent paper, if I speak a word about the particular 
bias with which I come at the paper. The context 
in which and out of which I work is that of a 
Catholic priest in Mississippi. This says some- 
thing about my primary experience with Southern 
Baptists, and it also says something about my 
self-identity as a Catholic. 

While the nature of the topic assigned to Dr. 
Moody and to me is a step removed from a consideration 
of the social dimensions inherent in the Gospel, I 
would be uncomfortable indeed if this discussion, 
centering as it will for the next few minutes on 
Church , would seem to imply a disjunction or dichotomy 
between "the spiritual" and "the social," between the 
vertical and the horizontal. At the risk of being 
simplistic, but with the desire to be simple, it would 
seem to me that this issue is a non-issue for the 
Christian, or should be, as Christ has resolved it in 
the cross. John focuses on the cross when he writes, 
"If anyone says, 'I love God', and hates his brother, 
he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother 
whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 
And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves 
God should love his brother also." (1 John 3:20, 21) 

There is a danger that theological discussion can 
be a sterile, intellectual exercise. That it need not 
be and should not be I take to be self-evident. My 
fear in making the comments which Dr. Moody's paper has 
evoked in me is that the reality of Church as I ex- 
perience it and participate in it will not be adequately 
reflected in my remarks. Hopefully the passion I feel 
for the Church will point to a reality which my words 
may obscure. 

First of all, Dr. Moody, my thanks and admiration 
to you for this splendid paper. As an over all response, 
I find the paper stimulating and containing clear 
directions for continuing theological dialogue between 
Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics. There is a 
frightening comprehensiveness about the paper when one 
is charged to respond. Understanding the charge as a 
response, and confident after last night that I shall 
not have the last word, the charge is less ominous. 

The paper gives me great hope for our growing re- 
lationship as Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics. 
Particularly interesting to me was the treatment of the 
Bishop of Rome, ministry, apostolic tradition, and the 
Eucharist. While, certainly, we have differences of 
understanding and expression, it is encouraging to 
know that we can begin to get at the issues. 

Dr. Moody's paragraph on the Lord's Supper towards 
the end of his paper is, for me, the highpoint of his 
presentation, and is an invitation to deeper dialogue. 
Let me repeat those words: "The significance of the 
Lord's Supper is indicated by the words used.. In refer- 
ence to the present it is a thanksgiving (a eucharist) 
and a communion in reference to both God and man. As a 
covenant and as a rememberance it is a link with the 
past event of the death and resurrection of our Lord. 
It also points to the future as it is linked with the 
kingdom of God and the coming of Christ in glory. " 
Here , it would seem to me , could be found the basis of 
discussion by Catholics and Southern Baptists on the 
meaning of the Lord ' s Supper . 

In a further discussion of "The Authority of Faith" , 
it would be interesting to have developed at greater 
length the meaning of faith as well as the nature of the 
contemporary crisis of faith . This would , it seems to 
me , be as much a joint concern for Southern Baptists 
and Roman Catholics as an issue between us . A 
Catholic ' s effort to deal with this is The Survival of 
Dogma by Avery Dulles, S. J. 

In his analysis of authority , Dr. Moody points to 
three major positions in the search for authority in 
Christian faith : Authority of the Spirit , Authority of 
the Church , Authority of the Scriptures . I found this 
an interesting development as it lays the groundwork 
for a convergence, or at least a dialogue between us on 
the relationship of Scripture and tradition. From the 
Catholic side , the Constitution on Revelation of the 
Second Vatican Council should prove helpful in such a 
dialogue . 

If I may quote from the Constitution on Revelation 
not by way of beginning the dialogue , but rather by way 
of suggesting a further basis for discussion: "This 
commission was faithfully fulfilled by the apostles who, 
by their oral preaching, by example, and by ordinances, 
handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, 
from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they 
had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. 
The commission was fulfilled, too, by those apostles and 
apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same 
Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing. 

"But in order to keep the gospel forever whole 
and alive within the Church-, the apostles left bishops 
as their successors, 'handing over their own teaching 
role' to them. This sacred tradition, therefore, and 
sacred Scripture of both the Old and the New Testament 
are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth 
looks at God, from whom she has received everything, 
until she is brought finally to see Him as He is face 
to face." (Constitution on Revelation, #7) 

I do not see these three major positions as 
mutually exclusive historical moments, but as present 
dimensions of the authority of faith. Let me say a 
word about each of these positions. 

With regard to the authority of the Spirit, there 
is evident in Roman Catholicism today a renewed 
emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit. Witness, for 
example, the growth of the Charismatic Renewal movement. 
Another related phenomenon is the renewed interest in 
the discernment of the Spirit in the lives of indivi- 
duals and in the life of a community. Increasingly, 
men and women are making directed retreats for discern- 
ment. In the renewal of the liturgy, suffice it to 
mention the new Canons for the Mass and the renewed 
emphasis on Confirmation. Catholics are living in an 
increased consciousness of the abiding action of the 
Holy Spirit. 

Concerning the authority of the Scriptures , how 
welcome are the indications in Dr. Moody's paper that 
there is an alternative to polemics. As a Catholic, I 
find difficulty in limiting tradition to apostolic 
tradition. A distortion of biblical faith by majoring 
on minors or deviating altogether from New Testament 
teaching would be equally reprehensible to Catholics 
as to Southern Baptists. We would obviously differ in 
our basic assumptions in beginning a dialogue on 
ecclesiastical tradition , however. The application of 
the critical method to the teaching of tradition can 
do much to clarify this issue. Fundamentalism with 
regards to Scripture or Tradition does violence to the 
manner in which God deals with His people, His pilgrim 
people. Time conditioned categories of thought have 
too often been allowed to obscure the underlying value 
or truth being handed on. 

The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit unfolding 
God's truth which remains ever more than we affirm is 
a presence obscured, it would seem, without a continuing 
Tradition as well as Scripture. 


In second place Dr. Moody cited the authority of 
the Church. I deal with it last because I see it as 
the locus for the other two: the Spirit and Scripture. 

Too quickly - and yet I have spoken over long, let 
me refer to the last section of the paper. With no 
further word now, Ministry, Baptism and the Lord's Supper 
are certainly topics for future discussions. Our point 
of entry might, or - I would say - must be a discussion 
on the Church. 

Here, it would seem to me, we must begin. At first 
view, we might wonder what could be more disparate than 
the ecclesial selfunderstanding of Southern Baptists 
and Roman Catholics. On closer view, however, there are 
parallels . 

Both Catholics and Southern Baptists place emphasis 
on the local church. For Southern Baptists, the local 
Church is the local congregation. For Catholics the 
local Church is the diocese. Congregation is to 
Baptist what Diocese is to Catholics. 

The meaning of Church is developed beyond Diocese 
for Catholics, whereas the Baptist meaning of Church 
appears obscure to me beyond the local congregation. I 
would suggest that the notion of communion between 
local churches as experienced within the Catholic Church 
may prove helpful for a fuller sense of Church among 
Southern Baptist Congregations. While, obviously, the 
Catholic model would not be totally congenial to a 
Baptist mind-set, the renewed emphasis on the college 
of Bishops, and consequently on the local Church, in 
Roman Catholicism is an expression of unity in diversity 
through communion . 

It is not true to say there is no dogma for Southern 
Baptists, for how often and in what diverse places is 
it proclaimed that "no Baptist speaks for any other 
Baptist!" There is a sense in which, "no Catholic speaks 
for any other Catholic." Each of us must ultimately 
affirm personally. But to affirm personally is not to 
deny communion, community of faith. 

I would presume to suggest that Southern Baptists, 
with no loss of their historic concern for individual 
freedom, may be called to share more explicitly, yes, 
and even structurally their unity of faith with one 
another . 

While it might be argued that "the preacher has 
done quit preaching and gone to meddling" , I would 
suggest that this .growth in unity among Southern Baptists 


is a pre-requisite for more meaningful dialogue 
between Southern Baptists and the Catholic Church 
as well as other ecclesial communities. I am urged 
to say this by Dr. Moody's words: "The claim that 
the New Testament order is valid only in the local 
congregation is untenable. The so-called Free Church 
tradition assumes all too early that the Congregation- 
alism of the sixtenth century and afterward recovered 
all the order in the New Testament. This is difficult 
to defend on the grounds of the New Testament." 

Dr. Moody states, "Protestants, once shy of the 
body of Christ metaphor as a Roman Catholic charac- 
teristic, have come to put most stress on this very 
point." This remains for me the richest of metaphors. 
St. Augustine powerfully expresses this when he says, 
"The Church is Christ, extended in time and space." 
Paul's conversion experience had at its heart the 
insight that Jesus and his followers are one. 

This unity of life expressed in unity of mission 
is incarnate in us. Whenever two or three are gather- 
ed together there is structure. It is at this point 
that we need to dialogue. Catholics localize (but 
do not thereby limit) the Spirit in institutional 
elements of the Church: Teaching office, ministry of 
Peter and his successors, sacraments -- these are in- 
stitutional elements which are Spirit filled. It is 
impossible for a Catholic to make a distinction between 
the Spirit filled community and the institutional 
Church. It is in this context of Church that I would 
place the discussion of ministry, baptism, and the 
Lord's Supper. 

Again, Dr. Moody, thank you for an excellent and 
evocative paper. I hope I have not done it too great 
an injustice. 


"The Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church" 
The Most Reverend John L. May 

The Question 

Now and then a Protestant picks up a Catholic 
newspaper and he reads about the following: absolution, 
all souls' day, the apostolic blessing, Ash Wednesday, 
benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the breviary, 
candlemas day, chasubles, churching, ciborium, compline, 
communal penance, concelebration , Corpus Christi, etc., 
etc., - and we have just touched down here and there 
in the first three letters of the alphabet. 

Or he turns on his television set on Christmas Eve 
and runs into a feature from Saint Peter's in Rome or 
Saint Patrick's in New York. He winces at the pomp and 
pageantry, the swirling of the censer and the clouds of 
smoke, the flowing, brocaded vestments, the showy drama- 
tics of it all, and he wonders. 

Or some quiet afternoon on a walk through a strange 
city, he may stop in out of curiosity at a local Catholic 
church. Sitting there quietly in the half light, study- 
ing the graven images all around, he watches as another 
visitor enters, crosses himself with holy water, 
genuflects before the ornate, golden chest in front, 
perhaps then lights a candle and kneels before a statue 
before bobbing up and down on one knee making the 
rounds of fourteen bas reliefs along the walls. 

Somewhere he has heard all this called "liturgy" 
and he really wonders what it has to do with the Gospels. 
In his reading of the New Testament he recognizes none 
of this. He may not want to ask his Catholic friend, 
so the question remains: how is this the worship in 
spirit and in truth proclaimed by Jesus? 

As I understand it, my assignment today is to 
answer that question--and perhaps some more which may 
be raised by my answer. I am to do so, according to 
my instructions, in a basic overview, without all the 
technicalities and subtleties of the scholars. I 
believe I am fitted to do so since my role in the 
Church is that of a pastor. I am not a university 
or seminary professor. Perhaps this admission will 
disappoint some here, but I suspect it may reassure a 
few others. 


The Term 

The word "liturgy" is of Greek origin and was 
used in a secular context of any service rendered to 
the whole community. It became a scriptural term in 
the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, 
and it was then used almost exclusively for the worship 
of Yahweh by His people. The same usage is found in 
the New Testament where Luke speaks of Zachary ' s liturgy 
in the Temple (1/23) and Paul calls himself "the 
liturgist of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles" (Rom. 15/16). 
But it is in the Epistle to the Hebrews that the term 
"liturgy" is used in its specifically Christian sense: 
"We have such a high priest - - - a minister ( leitourgios 
or liturgist) of the sanctuary and of the true Tent of 
Meeting which the Lord, and not any man, set up - - - 
We have seen that he has been given a ministry ( leitourgios , 
liturgy) of a far higher order, and to the same degree it 
is a better covenant of which he is the mediator, founded 
on better promises." (8/1-6). 

So then, liturgy is the primary work of God's 
Christian people, for through Christ's liturgy they are 
able to offer acceptable worship to God. In the early 
Church liturgy was the term used for prayer and devotion 
in general but through the centuries it has come to mean 
only the official community service as opposed to private 
piety (as in the words of Jesus, when we go into our 
room, close the door, and pray to our Father in secret). 
Liturgy has been defined by Pope Pius XII as "the integral 
public worship of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, of 
the Head and members . " 

The Meaning 

Please note the two components of the Pope's defi- 
nition. According to Catholic belief, the liturgy of the 
Church is (1) the worship of Jesus, as instituted by Him, 
and (2) put into our hands. In the Incarnation, Jesus 
Christ offered worship through the members of His physical 
body on our earth. He continues to do so today through 
the members of His Church, His Mystical Body. The Risen 
Jesus lives always as our One Mediator, Our Priest always 
making intercession for us, the Lamb standing as if slain. 

This holy worship Jesus has shared with His members, 
the chosen race, the royal priesthood. So the Church is 
the prolongation in space and time of Jesus Christ, the 
Living Stone, and its members are living stones built 
thereon into a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacri- 
fices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2-9). 


This, then, is the heart of Catholic belief about 
its liturgy. The liturgy is at once the action of the 
glorious, risen Jesus, our Priest, and at the same time 
the action of His priestly people, His Church. 

The Mass 

At the risk of oversimplification, I have chosen to 
present the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church under 
five headings: The Mass, The Sacraments, The Divine 
Office, The Church Year, and the Sacramentals . 

Although it is used most often for its simplicity, 
the word Mass is perhaps the least desirable of the many 
terms used to describe this central and most important 
act of Catholic public worship. It is more properly call- 
ed the Eucharistic Celebration, the Eucharistic Liturgy, 
the Divine Liturgy or simply The Liturgy as is the ancient 
custom especially in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox 
Churches . 

The high point in the life of Jesus Christ was, of 
course, what is called the Paschal Mystery--His Passion, 
Death, and Resurrection. It began at the table of the 
Passover supper. And here began the Christian liturgy. 

At that Last Supper, Jesus transformed this most 
sacred act of Jewish worship into the most sacred act of 
Christian worship. The old covenant became the new. 
The lamb that was slain, whose blood saved God's people 
and which was eaten by them to show their unity with 
their God, was now replaced by the Body and Blood of the 
new Lamb of God, Whose Blood would be shed on the cross 
to save God's people and whose flesh would be eaten by 
them to show their unity with their God. 

The accounts of the institution of the Eucharistic 
liturgy in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul, have been 
analyzed by theologians through the centuries with vary- 
ing interpretations. The same is true of the inner mean- 
ing of this mystery of the Eucharist, of which we read 
in the sixth chapter of John's Gospel, and the tenth and 
eleventh chapters of First Corinthians and of the 
Christian priesthood as set forth in the first ten 
chapters of Hebrews. Without any effort at scriptural 
exegesis, may I simply state the Faith of the Roman 
Catholic Church about the Last Supper and the Priest- 
hood of Jesus. 

We believe that Jesus gave to His Church under the 
appearances of bread and wine His Body and Blood. He 
then gave to His Church the commission to continue this 


offering of the same Body and Blood, in memory of Him, 
the Glorious Victim of Calvary. So when we eat of this 
bread and drink of this cup, we show forth the death of 
the Lord until He comes again. 

His death on the cross, the Sacrifice He offered 
once for all, is made present to us and becomes our 
sacrifice at Mass. We are given the awesome and mys- 
terious privilege of joining our offering with His, 
our spiritual sacrifice which becomes acceptable to God 
through Jesus Christ. 

There is only one Priest of the New Testament-- 
Jesus, and He has given us all a share in His priest- 
hood, some more, some less. There is only the one 
Sacrifice of the New Testament — the Sacrifice of the 
Cross--and Jesus has given us all a share in His 
sacrifice when it is made present to us in Holy Mass. 

The death and resurrection of Jesus, the Paschal 
Mystery, is the pivot of human history. It becomes the 
pivot of a Catholic's life in the Mass. For him it is 
a living event at which he is present and in which he 
is fully involved. 

May I demonstrate? (Explanation of action of Mass 
through missal used by millions of American Catholics 
every Sunday.) 

A) Liturgy of the Word: We speak to God in our 
prayer-He speaks back to us through the Scripture 
readings and through His Church in the homily. 

B) Liturgy of the Eucharist: We give to God 
through Jesus in the consecration of our gifts. 
We join our sacrifice to His--God gives back to 
us in Jesus in Holy Communion. He feeds our 
souls and we live the life of Christ. 

With minor variations, this is the ancient eucharistic 
liturgy of the Church — Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican 
(sometimes Lutheran, also). 

The Sacraments 

Catholic belief and worship are basically in- 
carnational. Just as we believe that God came to us in 
an intimate, human way in Jesus, a man like us in all 
things but sin, so we believe that He still comes to us 
in the same way today. 


We believe therefore that Jesus sent the Apostles 
and their successors so that who hears them hears Him. 
We believe that Jesus speaks through His Church and 
touches men in a human way through His mystical body, 
the Church, just as He did through His physical body 
in Galilee. 

From a Christian's birth until his death, the 
Church is at his side with her holy Sacraments given 
to her by Jesus . Through these seven signs of spirit- 
ual life, the Christian encounters Jesus Christ by 
faith. Under the visible sign, Jesus shares His life 
more and more with a believing Christian in His own 
mysterious way. He does this through His word and His 
grace under the sign of the simple elements of our 
world which He shared as our brother in the flesh. 

We might review the seven Sacraments given by 
Jesus to His Church and compare them to the stages in 
a man's natural life. At each point this man encounters 
Jesus Christ, Who offers a growing share in His life. 

After a man is born of his mother, he is called to 
be born again of water and the Holy Spirit in the Sacra- 
ment of Baptism and he receives the Christ-life. 

At the time of adolescence a man enters the next 
stage of his life when he begins to face the challenges 
of adult responsibility. At that time the Christian 
confirms his baptism and personal commitment to Jesus 
Christ as Lord and Savior. He receives spiritual 
strength through the laying on of hands in the Sacra- 
ment of Confirmation, the Seal of the Spirit. 

As an adult, a man chooses his vocation, or way 
of life. If a Catholic chooses marriage, Christ comes 
in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to sanctify his 
married life. If a Catholic chooses to give his life 
to the priesthood, Christ comes in the Sacrament of 
Holy Orders to give a full share in Christian priest- 
hood, beyond what was given in Baptism and Confirmation. 

At a time of serious illness or in danger of death, 
Jesus is there as He was to the sick in Galilee with His 
healing and His grace in the anointing with oil and the 
prayer of faith in the Sacrament of the Sick. 

Throughout all these years from birth to death there 
has been the regular nourishment needed to sustain natu- 
ral life. Similarly, Jesus Christ, in the Sacrament of 
the Eucharist, has come to the Catholic at least each 
Sunday to offer the nourishment for his spiritual life. 


Throughout these years at a time of failure in 
Christian life through serious sin, the Lord Jesus has 
also been at the side of a truly repentant Catholic in 
the Sacrament of Penance or confession as He forgave 
the adulterous woman, doubting Thomas, cowardly Peter, 
and so many more. 

Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is still doing 
the same beautiful works of grace we read about in the 
Gospels in the same human way so that we can feel His 
hand, hear His voice, and taste His Supper through His 
Church as His friends did so long ago. Through the 
Sacraments of His Church, He is Jesus Christ, yesterday, 
today, and the same, forever. He comes to all who are 
ready to receive Him by faith in His holy Sacraments. 

The Divine Office 

This unusual term is used of the official daily 
prayer of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also some- 
times called the Breviary or the Prayer of Hours. 

Through many centuries , the Church developed this 
official book of prayers. Each day at stated times all 
over the world this prayer is recited or chanted in 
Cathedrals, monasteries, and convents, by priests and 
sisters whose primary role in the Church is this solemn 
prayer. Together with Holy Mass, the Hours of the 
Breviary constitute a rhythm of prayer and worship 
from dawn to dark. Priests who are not members of such 
a monastic community also recite these regular prayers 
privately each day from this official prayer book of 
the Church. The psalms form the major part of this 
prayer, along with biblical and patristic readings, 
hymns, and ancient Christian prayers. 

Much of Gregorian chant has been developed to 
embellish this solemn prayer. It is an unforgettable 
experience to join a Community of monks as they move 
quietly through the order of the day with this periodic 
choral worship of the Father through Jesus Who asked us 
to pray always. His Church does so in a most beautiful 
way through the Divine Office. 

The Church Year 

Any calendar speaks to us of Christ as the center of 
recorded history. We call this year 1973 A . D . - in the 
year of Our Lord. It is 197 3 years, more or less, since 
He came. All history before His coming is termed B.C.-- 
before Christ. He is the pivot of history. 


Each year in the liturgy of the Church similarly 
centers on Jesus Christ. Month by month the Church 
calendar keeps us mindful of His holy life and helps 
us to live it with Him. Easter is the liturgical 
high-point, of course, as His glorious Resurrection 
crowned His life on earth. 

The Christian Sunday replaced the Jewish Sabbath 
because it was the day of the Lord's Resurrection. Very 
early in Church History, the greatest Sunday, the Feast 
of the Lord's Rising, became the great spiritual feast 
in the liturgy. From it grew the rest of the church 
year which I will, at some risk of oversimplification, 
review very briefly. 

It all begins with the season of Advent, a period 
of about four weeks, when the Church relives the Old 
Testament days and prays with Israel, "0 Come, Come, 

Emmanuel ! " 

Christmas is the Feast of His Nativity and then in 
January there is His Epiphany to the wise men from the 
East and all the Gentiles . At the beginning of the 
six weeks of Lent , we read of Jesus going into the 
desert to fast and pray , to be baptized in the Jordan , 
and then He begins His public life . Lent comes to a 
liturgical climax in Holy Week when Catholics relive 
the suffering , death , and resurrection of the Lord in 
the most moving liturgy of the entire year. 

The forty days after Easter are a j oyous liturgical 
season and then comes the Feast of the Ascension and ten 
days later the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost . 
As the Good News went out over the world , we relive 
those early Christian days in the liturgy after Pentecost 
when the teaching of J esus is recalled and explained 
Sunday after Sunday in the Bible readings and the preach- 
ing which flows from them. 

The end of the year comes with the Feast of All 
the Saints in November , when we praise God for that vast 
multitude of all nations and tribes and peoples and 
tongues which no man can number , standing before the 
Throne and before the Lamb . There is also All Souls ' 
Day, when we remember and pray for all our beloved 
dead. Then the Church year ends in late November with 
the glorious Feast of Christ the King, the Lord of the 
living and the dead. "Behold, I make all things new - - 
It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning 
and the end . " 

So it goes, year after year, in the liturgy of the 


Church. What I have described is the major liturgical 
cycle, the Sundays and other great Feasts of Jesus Christ. 
There is also the minor cycle in the liturgical year, 
the week-days which are dedicated to the memory of Mary, 
the Mother of Jesus, His apostles, and all the individual 
great men and women of faith whom we call saints in our 
Christian history. 

Such briefly and rather sketchily is the 1 Church year. 

The Sacramentals 

It is Catholic belief that Jesus personally gave us 
the seven Sacraments--signs and channels of His grace, 
as I explained earlier. He chose to do so by uniting 
the simple things of life--water, bread, wine, oil--with 
His almighty Word to give His holy grace. As Saint 
Augustine says in the fourth century, "Does Peter 
baptize? Does Paul baptize? Does Apollo baptize? It 
is Christ Who baptizes." 

Through the centuries His Church has encouraged 
the holy use of all of God's creation in a pale imi- 
tation of the Lord. It is in the Sacraments that Jesus 
acts and we encounter Him. In using what the Church 
calls sacramentals we simply try to pray better by 
using the things of earth to help our memories and 
imaginations in the liturgy. Examples are legion: 
the palms in the procession of Palm Sunday; the ashes 
on Ash Wednesday; the blessing of a Christian's new 
home; candles which he burns in memory of Jesus, the 
Light of the World; the pictures along the walls of 
our churches depicting Christ's sorrowful way to 
Calvary which Catholics call the Stations of the Cross; 
the medal or cross worn by a Catholic around his neck, 
the rosary he uses to help meditate on the episodes in 
the life of the Lord as given in the Gospels, the 
crucifix on his wall to recall that God so loved the 
world, etc . , etc . 

It is the mind of the Church that all of God's 
creation is given to us to help us praise the Lord. 
So from all the cultures of Christendom, from all its 
customs, its art, its drama, its music, the Church has 
borrowed whatever will help make its liturgical life 
more vivid and meaningful. Some of these sacramentals 
have been adopted into the official public worship of 
the Church, into its liturgy in the authentic sense. 
Some are found in the popular., private piety of simple 
people--especially of certain national traditions. It 
is all part of the Church which is "catholic"--i . e . , 
for all the peoples and tribes and tongues--for God 


wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge 
of the truth . 

To sum up: This, then, is the liturgy--what it 
means to us. It is a fascinating subject with rami- 
fications in theology, scripture studies, archeology, 
history, anthropology, art, music, architecture, etc. 
The study of Christian liturgy is a flourishing 
field of scholarship and has developed tremendously 
in this century. We could talk about it at great 
length. Perhaps you are thinking, "You already 

I have said my piece. I look forward to sharing 
your thoughts in a very fruitful discussion. 


Response to "The Liturgy 
of the Roman Catholic Church" 
The Reverend L. D. Johnson 

Bishop May and distinguished colleagues, it is a 
signal honor for me to be invited to respons to such a 
straightforward and persuasive presentation. The Bishop 
has not concealed his scholarship, but his pastor's 
heart entirely disarms me. The winsome and gentle 
manner of instructing us in the Roman Catholic under- 
standing of liturgy I find both clear and charitable. 
Such a gracious and non-polemic presentation can only 
strengthen the intentions and efforts of all of us 
here to hear and love one another in Christ. 

I have found the Bishop's study of " leitourgia " 
most helpful, and may perhaps be excused for citing 
one or two additional scriptural references to the use 
of the term to show how we Baptists come out at not 
quite the same place. Bishop May's review of the use 
of the word in the Septuagint is, I am sure, impeccable. 
And that it has the meaning in the New Testament of 
specific public religious service performed as unto 
Christ, I believe is unquestionable. Certainly that 
is what Zechariah was doing (Luke 1:23). And there 
seems no reason to seek any other meaning of the passage 
in Hebrews 8:1-6, where Christ is presented as the great 
high priest who is "minister (liturgist) of the sanctuary 
. . . ." This Christ has been given a ministry (liturgy) 
of a far higher order than that of Moses. 

I suggest that Baptists understand that passage 
somewhat figuratively. You see, my brothers, we Baptists 
take the Bible literally when it fits our theology! 
Seriously, I see this great high priestly statement in 
Hebrews as a kind of metaphoric description of Christ, 
connecting him with the sacrificial system of the Old 
Covenant. I do not see Jesus literally belonging to 
the priestly tradition of his day, but to the prophetic 
tradition. I view the metaphor of Hebrews as a useful 
and enriching description of Christ who fulfills all 
of our religious understanding. 

Another passage which clearly implies the meaning 
of liturgical service is Acts 13:2: "One day while 
they were offering worship ( leitourgounton ) to the 
Lord and keeping a fast^ the Holy Spirit said. ..." 
Here the selection and setting apart of Barnabas and 
Saul for mission to the Gentiles is reported. The 
divine impulse to take this new step in Christian 


mission came through the acts of worship being 
offered to the Lord. 

However, we would suggest that it is too 
limiting to restrict our understanding of leitourgia 
to a set of specified and established acts of 
worship. Consider some additional uses of the word 
in the New Testament. Paul employs it in Romans 
15:27, where he refers to the offering of love being 
received from the Gentile churches for the relief of 
the poor saints at Jerusalem. The Gentiles, he says, 
have come to share in spiritual blessings through 
Jerusalem. Therefore, they ought also to be of service 
to (ought to liturgize) the saints at Jerusalem in the 
material blessings which they can provide. Here 
liturgy is a way of serving. One might even say it 
is a non-recurring, unofficial and perhaps in the 
strictest sense an unsacramental sacrament. 

In II Corinthians 9:12 Paul says a similar thing: 
"For the rendering of this service (liturgy) not only 
supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows 
in many thanksgivings to God." The "service" is the 
offering being received from the Corinthians for the 
church at Jerusalem. 

In Philippians 2:17 Paul writes about the 
possibility that he may himself be poured out as a 
libation "upon the sacrifice and liturgy" (sacred 
offering" ( thusia and leitourgia ) of their faith. In 
that case, his very life would have become an act of 
liturgy. Writing of Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25, 
Paul says of the man sent by the church at Philippi 
to help him that he has been "your messenger and 
minister (liturgist) to my need." And in verse 30 
he broadens the thought about Epaphroditus by saying 
that the man had risked his life "to complete your 
service (liturgy) to me." 

Liturgy in these cases, then, seems to have a 
general reference to any act of service done in the 
name of Christ. But Paul can also use the word in 
yet another sense. In Romans 13:6 he generalizes on 
the term to apply it to magistrates who he says are 
"liturgists" of God, that is, he sees them as men 
who perform their civil service as acts of honor to 
God. In Romans 15:16 he speaks of himself as "liturgist" 
of Jesus Christ. It is natural and logical for me to 
think that Paul has in mind his total life as a 
missionary, rather than official acts performed in 
services of worship. 


I could wish for the Bishop's grace to endow his 
comments with such conviction as he shows without any 
evidence of lack of appreciation for another's view. 
I can only hope to be understood as seeking to express 
a deep sense of appreciation for the wealth of meaning 
in Roman Catholic liturgy, and at the same time confess 
a different understanding. The barrenness of worship 
in many Baptist services is a troublesome fact to some 
of us Baptists. We endure it restlessly and seek to 
relieve it as much as we can. We endure it at all 
only because we believe in the free church tradition 
and are also troubled by what we believe we observe in 
Catholic worship — a tendency to identify the drama- 
tization of the acts of God's redemption with the re- 
demption itself. 

You will understand, I trust, that we mean no 
impertinence when we say that we want to avoid this. 
We do not intend to say that one dramatization of re- 
demption is as valid as any other, or that any vehicle 
--or no vehicle — is a valid conveyance for grace. But 
we react— perhaps overreact — to what appears to us to 
be a preoccupation with the vehicle. No doubt that 
has made us do some things in reaction which appear 
to be like the behavior of a teen-ager acting out his 

It must be shocking to Roman Catholic sensibilities 
to see a minister lead his community of worshipers in 
prayer dressed in his street clothes, and it may not 
be too convincing to have it explained that the Baptist 
is practicing the simplicity of the early church. It 
probably shocks him even more to see Baptists receiving 
communion seated in their pews. For the Catholic to 
participate in the awesome coming of Christ into himself 
while sitting in his pew instead of kneeling in adoration 
at the altar is unthinkable. But theology is at work 
here, of course. To most Baptists, the bread is not 
Christ in any corporeal sense, and most Baptists would 
eat the bread only in a sacramental spirit of memory 
and communion. In fact, fairness would require us to 
say that most Southern Baptists would attach no sacra- 
mental meaning to the Lord's Supper at all. 

Perhaps one more comment will be heard. The 
Baptist sees all life, when lived under God, as liturgy. 
He can affirm the value of special celebrations, but 
he would not attach to these some essential nature as 
means of dispensing grace. Christ is present and real 
to him in any moment whenever , wherever and however 
the believer does what he is doing as service (liturgy) 
to God. 


I must add a postscript. It is highly improbable 
that any Baptist — especially this one--speaks for all 
Baptists. The subject, "What Baptists Believe," may 
never be seriously presented monologically . As some 
of the Baptists here will no doubt be glad to tell 
you, I do not speak for them. Perhaps I have spoken 
only for myself in these remarks about liturgy. But 
I am sure that I have spoken for all Baptists here 
when I express warm appreciation of Bishop May's 
irenic spirit and articulate thought. 


"The Formation of Doctrine" 
The Reverend John E. Steely 

My initial reflection upon the topic that has 
been assigned to me has brought forth some questions 
which you surely will understand. What kind of 
statement are we to make about the formation of 
Christian doctrine? Do those who framed the program 
expect us to praise it? to deplore it? to marvel 
at it? to minimize it? to justify it? Obviously 
none of these. But when I asked Bill Angell what he 
had in mind when he wrote to me about the place on 
the program, he graciously refused to place any limits 
on my freedom (in translation, that means "he gave me 
no help at all") and said that I should approach the 
topic as it seemed suitable to me. 

With this freedom, therefore, I assumed at once 
that we should talk about the "how" and the "why" of 
the formation of doctrine . This kind of examination 
seems to me as historian so right and so natural that 
in fact some effort is required even to imagine a 
different approach. 

In the setting of this inter-confessional con- 
versation, however — a setting which has not been a 
familiar one for many of us, and, I judge, a fairly 
new experience for all of us — even the simple 
questions of "how" and "why" acquire a new dimension. 
Often these questions are dismissed as being so simple 
that they are beneath our dignity, or they are granted 
only a superficial, two-dimensional answer. It is my 
opinion that we all have less to fear for ourselves 
in a more searching study of them than in the quick, 
casual, or traditional dismissal of them, and surely 
also less peril of doing injury to one another. It 
is interesting, instructive, and distressing to see 
how polemical writings, regardless of how keenly 
analytical they may be at other points, tend to 
answer the "how" and "why" questions with a superficial 
treatment. Here, in this happy setting, we may give 
them more care, and thus be more tender with the 
fragile treasures of truth and personal relationships. 
Here we may approach them from a perspective which has 
not been accessible to any of us in our native habitat. 
Here we may see something of how and why doctrines 
have been formed in our own communion and the other, 
in the centuries of Christian history which we share 


as a common heritage, and in those centuries that have 
elapsed since then, during which we have gone largely 
separate ways, to our loss and surely to the hurt of 
the world to which we are ealled to minister in the 
name of Christ our Lord. 

Perhaps I should reassure you here by saying that 
I do not propose to offer a crash course or a refresh- 
er course in the history of dogma. Even if I were 
tempted to do so, I should be obliged to remember 
that the most common fault of historians, if not the 
most grievous one, is to focus their readers' and 
hearers' attention upon the trees so exclusively that 
they tend to lose sight of the forest. Our study 
this evening is intended to be a fresh look at the 
forest . 

We may well begin by looking at the concept of 
doctrine itself. It becomes evident at once that the 
term does not adequately identify the entity to which 
it refers. Although the word means "teaching," this 
is in fact only one of the many aspects of what 
doctrine is and does. We do employ it for purposes 
of instruction, for converts and children, and for 
more mature Christians as well. But beyond this 
function, it serves a multitude of other purposes 
for us all, Catholic and Baptist alike. It has 
served in evangelism^ for the work of converting 
people from unfaith to faith. It has been used in 
apologetics, to state our case to an indifferent or 
hostile world, and in polemics, to combat what we 
have regarded as erroneous belief. We have used it 
for purposes of self-identification, saying, in 
effect, "We are the people whose doctrine is . . . . 11 
In short, doctrine serves all the purposes cited by 
Oscar Cullmann as the uses of the earliest Christian 
confessions (in his little book by that title), and 
more besides. I should say, moreover, that as I 
use the word here, I intend more than dogma. Since 
we Baptists do not have the structures for identifying 
or defining dogmas, we cannot state a comfortable 
parallel between the Baptist and the Catholic patterns 
for naming theological statements according to their 
official character. In the word "doctrine" here I 
intend the whole range ©f theology which is accepted 
(whether required or not) within a given. eommunion. 

Consequently, in the present setting, it seems 
worthwhile to note that doctrine divides us. In such 
an inter-confessional gathering as this one, surely 


it is important for us to give attention to whatever 
it is that separates us, and particularly to its 
genesis, its formation. But one can hardly say that 
doctrine divides us, Baptists and Catholics, without 
hastening to add another consideration, one that gives 
equal justification for our studying this topic: 
doctrine also unites us. And it is indeed equally 
important in a gathering like the present one to con- 
sider not only what it is that affords us a common 
basis, but also the genesis of that shared perspective. 

Now even at this early stage of our study you 
will already be well ahead of me, and I can hear two 
of your comments which are already being formulated. 
Some of you are eager to remind me that doctrine 
performs these functions of uniting and dividing, not 
only between Catholics on the one hand and Baptists 
on the other, but also within our communions (when 
we use the term, as I have proposed, to include 
accepted teaching in addition to whatever may have 
been defined as dogma) . I should quickly agree with 
this observation. Indeed, it may be that this dis- 
covery is part of the reason that our present meet- 
ing is possible; we have found as Baptists that we 
have closer agreement on some doctrinal points with 
a Catholic colleague than with some of our Baptist 
colleagues. Perhaps some of you as Catholics have 
found the same thing to be true from your side of 
this conversation. I dare say that we share, too, 
in the surprise that this is true, and perhaps we 
even marvel at hearing ourselves confess it. 

A second comment in which you have anticipated 
me is this: it is not doctrine alone that unites us, 
or that separates us. Once again I hasten to agree 
with you. Our concentration at this moment upon this 
specific aspect of our religious commitment is not at 
all meant to deny the existence or the importance of 
some of these other aspects liturgical, organ- 
izational, esthetic, ethical -- nor is it intended to 
overlook the fact that at least some of these others 
are doctrinally grounded. Still others, no doubt, 
are prior to doctrinal formulations and at least in 
some measure are responsible for these formulations. 

But doctrine is important. Even those who would 
like to see its importance minimized and subordinated 
to other expressions of our faith cannot deny that in 
fact it has been powerfully effective in dividing us. 
Less obvious, perhaps, but surely not to be denied 
is its contribution toward uniting us. 


In seeking to answer my own question about how 
Baptist doctrine came to be formed, I discovered very 
early that most of the same forces have operated upon 
our doctrinal formulations as have been present in 
those of other communions. Hence the question might 
legitimately be broadened to include the whole area of 
the history of doctrine: what forces have been at work 
in the formation of doctrine in the Christian church? 
My own personal response to this is a considerable list 
of such forces. At the outset, at least, I make no 
distinction between those answers that are affirmations 
of faith (my first one, listed below, is one) and those 
that are historical affirmations. 

So I list the responses to the question, "What 
forces have operated to produce Christian doctrinal 
statements and systems?" 

(1) divine revelation and the guidance of the 
Holy Spirit ; 

(2) inquiry and reflection by Christian thinkers; 
in this connection I should like to cite some 
words from the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine 
Revelation issued by Vatican II: 

This tradition which comes from the apostles 
develops in the church with the help of the Holy 
Spirit. For there is a growth in the understand- 
ing of the realities and the words which have 
been handed down. This happens through the con- 
templation and study made by believers, who treasure 
these things in their hearts (cf. Lk. 2:19, 51), 
through the intimate understanding of spiritual 
things they experience, and through the preaching 
of those who have received through episcopal 
succession the sure gift of truth. For, as the 
centuries succeed one another, the Church con- 
stantly moves forward toward the fullness of 
divine truth until the words of God reach their 
complete fulfillment in her. 

(3) cultural forces exerted upon the church from 
without, by the environment (thus Harnack, Jonas, 
and others). This might be the proper place to 
say that new impulses from the world outside 

the church — for example, in the various 
academic realms -- are still being felt in the 
formation of doctrine. The current discussions 
in the realm of Christology, for example, are 
affected by modern historical studies and by 
psychology. And we cannot dismiss their in- 
fluence by saying that they have a bearing 


only on formulation not on formation of doctrine. 
I think that formulation inevitably includes 
formation as one of its effects. The two are 
interrelated as cause and effect, effect and 
cause. Our language and the concepts which we 
employ to formulate doctrine serve also to 
shape and form our doctrine. 

(4) germination and growth from seeds that lay with- 
in the Christian message from the outset (thus 
Werner); or, otherwise stated, the explication 
of what was there, implicitly, from the very 

f irs t ; 

(5) the magisterium, the church's teaching authority, 
even when this authority does not function to 
elevate a specific teaching to the level of 
dogma, and when it is exercised in quite informal 
and unstructured ways. The question, "Who forms 
doctrine?", is answered for the Catholic Church 
by this constitution which I quoted a few moments 
ago in terms first of all of the believers, who 
treasure these things in contemplation and study. 
So also with Baptists: it is not pope or bishop 
or theologian or teacher but the body of the 
faithful with whom the initial step occurs in 
the "growth in the understanding of the realities 
and the words which have been handed down," to 
use the words of the constitution once more. 

(6) controversy over specifically theological issues. 
These have been so heavily stressed in the past 

as to leave the impression that doctrine is formed 
only in controversy over heretical, or allegedly 
heretical, ideas. We should keep this element in 
perspective, and not credit it with the totality 
of doctrinal formation or formulation. 

(7) conflict in other areas (politics, regional 
jealousies, clashes between personalities). 

The list could be extended, but this will suffice to 
indicate the complexity of development involved in the 
formation of doctrine as a whole, and of individual 
doctrines. I should acknowledge that all of these forces 
are present, and therefore that any attempt to account 
for the formation of doctrine in terms of only one, or 
even of only two or three of them, is likely to go astray. 
Indeed, we may say that no single specific doctrine is 
the outcome of only one or two of these forces. As 
illustration of the combination of forces, I suggest the 
Chalcedonian definition of the two natures of Christ, 
made in A. D. 451: here were mingled the struggle 


between Alexandria and Antioch, the Tome of Pope Leo I, 
the reaction to the "Robber Synod" at Ephesus two years 
earlier, the clarifications prompted even by Nestorius 
and Eutyches , and the imperial policies of the day. 

Now let me add to the foregoing list a second list, 
indicating some of the ways by which these forces have 
been brought to bear upon our lives and hence upon the 
formation of doctrine. Although you will recognize here 
some common elements of our heritage, I have in mind 
here the specific combination of elements from which 
we Baptists have drawn our doctrinal affirmations. 
These include: the Bible, the ancient creeds of the 
church, the tradition of the first fifteen centuries 
of Christian history, the special emphases of the six- 
teenth century Protestant leaders, English Puritanism/ 
Separatism, certain Anabaptist/Mennonite ideas and 
ideals, the political and cultural currents in this 
nation in its own formative years, the frontier con- 
ditions which both received and helped to mold some of 
our interpretations of the gospel, and the loose free- 
church structure which has typified Baptist organization 
(or lact of it). This last-named feature means, among 
other things j that in the absence of a central authority 
or a single recognized agency that is empowered to 
define the Christian faith in doctrinal terms, a wide 
diversity inevitably results, often on quite basic 
issues. This fact of course makes our present task 
all the more difficult and complex. Thus one must allow 
time for a teaching to become firmly implanted in the 
general tradition of Baptists before confidently 
identifying it as a doctrine; it may be nothing more 
than a passing fancy entertained by a few, or a per- 
spective held by those in quite limited geographical 
areas. Of course it is true that, along with the rest 
of western Christendom, we like to claim the criterion 
first formulated by Vincent of Lerins — that we hold 
to "that which has been believed always, everywhere, 
and by all" -- though we, like the rest, forget that 
it was first formulated in stout opposition to the 
new-fangled ideas that had been set forth and were 
being circulated in the writings of one Augustine of 
Hippo . 

Continuing to use the figurative language of 
forces that shape our doctrine and channels through 
which these forces come to us Baptists in particular, 
I should further suggest that the effect of some of 
these has been heightened, that of others reduced, 
and that of all of them in some way or ways modified 
by certain other observable features which belong in 
a peculiar way to the new world, and especially to the 
frontier. One of these features is a neglect of the 


study of history, our own as well as that of others. 
This is only one of the treasures of a settled society 
that we tend to sacrifice in the process of conquering 
new and • difficult territories, but it is an especially 
important loss in the present context. Now this as- 
sertion may seem strange to you when it is placed be- 
side my remark of a moment ago, to the effect that we 
like to claim the Vincentian canon as our own. I 
should say, however, that although the study of history 
is suggested by that canon, there is no guarantee of 
the fulfillment of that suggestion. Indeed, we must 
make a distinction here, one that may seem utterly 
wrongheaded and wicked, but I think it accurately 
describes our experience : we do not make much of 
history, but we make a great deal of tradition. And 
before you rise up to protest, let me further specify 
that we tend to identify tradition with what exists 
in living memory, not the long institutional memory 
cherished by the Catholic Church and by other Christian 
communions . 

I have suggested that we Baptists share with the 
rest of western Christendom the Bible, the ancient 
creeds, and the tradition of the western church of 
the first fifteen centuries (thus a major part of our 
inheritance is shared with eastern Christianity as well). 
Now let us note how the Bible enters into the formation 
of doctrine for us; it should be obvious that in several 
respects these observations will hold true for Catholics 
as well as for Baptists. 

It seems to me that the Bible functions in the 
formation of doctrine on at least three different levels, 
or at three different stages. First of all, it is there 
as a basic and prime element of doctrine, for us as for 
all other Christians. Produced and canonized by the 
church, even while the church was declaring herself to 
be subject to its authoritative message, the Bible aided 
in the formation of basic aspects of Christian teaching 
for all of us. This is demonstrated in the early church 
quite as much by the casual, informal citation of 
biblical words in the writings of the fathers as in their 
more formal quotations. They had the intention, at least, 
of saying what the apostles and prophets had said, and 
of being true to the words of the Lord himself. It seems 
to me that the recent revival of studies of the canon as 
canon offers great promist for us in the search for new 
understanding of ourselves, of each other, and of our 
common heritage. I am thinking in particular of such 
works as Willi Marxsen's THE NEW TESTAMENT AS THE CHURCH'S 
BOOK, and Hans von Campenhausen ' s THE FORMATION OF THE 


CHRISTIAN BIBLE. I cannot refrain from saying here 
that I think we Baptists have missed a very important 
contribution to our understanding of the gospel in our 
tendency to regard the Bible primarily as the Christian's 
book, rather than as the church's book; perhaps we can 
move toward a recognition of the latter without surrend- 
ering the highly significant force and value of the 
former . 

But we deceive ourselves when we engage in a treat- 
ment of the biblical sources of doctrine as though we 
were going directly "back to the Bible." For the Bible 
functions at a later time, also, at another level, as 
one of the superimposed strata of doctrine. We build 
today, even though unconsciously, upon the traditions 
of biblical interpretation that have grown through the 
centuries; or, to use another figure, we read the Bible 
through spectacles provided for us by earlier interpreters. 
It is not merely the apostle Paul whom we read, and not 
even the apostle's writings as forming an integral part 
of the Christian canon, but rather these writings as 
canonized and interpreted in the church through cen- 
turies upon centuries. For us, this long line of 
development includes the renewed emphasis upon the 
Bible in the works of the sixteenth century Protestant 
leaders, the long and multi-faceted struggle to secure 
the Bible in the vernacular, so that it might be 
accessible to Everyman, and its use in a polemical 
fashion, both within the Protestant camp and against 
Catholics, as we all know only too well. In this stratum 
of our doctrinal development, we have both a refinement 
and a partial rejection of the earlier biblical tradition. 
Thus the Bible became, in a way that had not been seen 
previously, an instrument of division among Christians. 

The Bible functions at still another level in the 
formation of our doctrine. I refer here to the actual 
use of the Bible in contemporary settings, in the ex- 
position of doctrinal views. Sometimes, no doubt, this 
use is fairly described by that quip about theological 
views as moving in a straight line from unexamined pre- 
suppositions to foregone conclusions. Of course not 
all uses of the Bible in support of one's doctrinal 
persuasion deserve that barb. The wide diversity of 
present day use of the Bible makes it difficult to 
offer a general characterization. It ranges all the 
way from the ritualized quotation of biblical material 
out of context, prefaced by "The Bible says . . . ," to 
theologically serious efforts made to discover, with 
linguistic tools and through comparative studies, what 


the apostle or the evangelist is saying. My point here 
is this : in our reading of the Bible today we participate 
actively, creatively. We do not read it in a purely 
passive and receptive way; indeed, I hope that what I am 
affirming here about our reading of it is true. Yet not 
all of our active involvement is affirmative. Out of 
our prejudices, as well as out of our experiences, our 
schooling, our mood or need of the moment, we contribute 
to its meaning for our time, and then we read it back to 
ourselves as though it were only the ancient meaning of 
the inspired writers which we are reading. Thus this 
third version of the Scriptures functions to shape our 
doctrine. Incidentally, I should add here that one 
might expect that in this case, the only effect is to 
confirm our already-determined ideas and prejudices, 
but this is not so; I dare say we all have had it speak 
to us in contradiction of our set opinions, and have 
felt its strong winds blowing away the clouds of our 
low-hanging doubts. 

The function of tradition may be dealt with more 
briefly. Among its many uses, in the formation of 
doctrine it is especially helpful in conjunction with 
the Bible in these three ways: 1) it supplements the 
Bible, filling in at those places where the biblical 
writers did not leave us any clear word; 2) it interprets 
the Bible, sometimes harmonizing divergent biblical 
accounts sometimes preferring one over another, but at 
all times reminding us that the meaning of the Bible 
does not lie on the surface (as an old teacher in the 
Southwest used to put it, "It is not correct to say 
that the Bible means what it says; it says what it says, 
and it means what it means!"); 3) it is antecedent to 
the Bible, and thus is in a kind of superior position. 
What is in the Bible could not have been accepted 
there if it had not agreed with the tradition as it 
was then accepted in the church. The tradition judged 
the books and their messages, applying to them the 
twin standards of apostolicity and evangelical truth. 
Now we can judge today that the tradition was in error 
in attributing to Paul certain letters; our use of 
modern critical methods with respect to tradition has 
not, however, advanced so far as the freedom to ascribe 
error to tradition on the other point, namely tradition's 
evaluation of these books with regard to their agreement 
with the gospel truth. 

Once the canon of Scripture was formed, with the aid 
of tradition as a test of the eligibility of writings for 
inclusion, the Bible then was used as a test itself, to 
weigh specific traditions. Some of these specific 


traditions then were held to be unacceptable because 
they were un-Scriptural ; one thinks of the cold reception 
first accorded the term "homoousios" as descriptive of 
the relation of the Son to the Father. It must be re- 
membered that both of these norms of doctrine, the Bible 
and tradition, were employed in and by the church. 
Baptists are not unaware of this. But along with their 
recognition of this you will hear the warning that the 
church may err and in fact has erred. This is a momen- 
tous declaration. Once it is made, all sorts of grave 
questions arise. Is there then no sure and certain 
guide to truth? Is the Lord's promise of his presence 
with us of no avail? Can the individual, or the small 
group, dare to claim superiority to the judgment of 
the church in matters of faith? Obviously these are 
indeed serious questions; but we must not assume that 
to raise them is to answer them, or that those who took 
the decisive step of dissenting from the prevailing 
judgment of the church did so without considering the 
implications of the actions, or that they acted in bad 
faith or out of wicked motives. And it is equally 
obvious that on precisely this point -- the point at 
which the church's judgment and private conscience 
come into conflict -- one finds a major division 
between and among ourselves in the present gathering. 

It was a question that lay at the center of the 
divisions of the sixteenth century. Our Baptist for- 
bears drew upon the arguments and the ideas of Luther 
and Calvin, particularly as these were modified and 
expanded by Puritan and Separatist preachers in the 
late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It is 
fair to say, however, that at least some of them did 
not lose sight of the fact that most of what they be- 
lieved and taught had been cherished by the Catholic 
Church through the centuries and was still cherished, 
although, as these Baptists saw it, in gravely diluted 
or grievously adulterated form. Thus tradition played 
a role in the formation of distinctive Baptist doctrine, 
but it did so under quite specific and peculiar con- 
ditions, so that it did not have the same force for 
Baptists -- and does not have, even down to this very 
day -- that it had and has for Catholics. 

I suggested a moment ago that the question is 
raised about private judgment in the formation of 
doctrine for Baptists. Does this really play a sig- 
nificant role in that formation? Yes, I think it 
does; and without undertaking to offer a defense of 
it, perhaps I can suggest some explanation of it. 


First, the doctrine of the priesthood of believers, 
shared by Baptists with others, is operative here. 
That doctrine has often been distorted and presented 
as though it meant only that every man can be his own 
priest, i. e., that every man can make his peace with 
God without the necessary mediation of another man or 
an institution. I should say that it includes that 
element, and among Baptists it has been nourished by 
several different sources among those earlier mentioned. 
Second, private judgment in matters of religious be- 
lief has been fostered by the Protestant understanding 
of faith as both receptive and active, both trusting 
and comprehending. Third, it has been fostered by the 
circumstances and conditions of the frontier, where 
the quality of self-reliance was admired and often was 
essential to survival. No wonder that the pioneers 
who were forced to develop their own economic systems , 
their political and judicial systems, and other aspects 
of their society, ad hoc. , were inclined also to form 
their own religious judgments without deference to any 
previously legitimated authority or personage. Now of 
course they did not form these doctrines wholly without 
the traditions of the past, but the same unusual con- 
ditions which seemed to require some adaptation of 
familiar governmental structures seemed also to require 
and thus to justify, if justification were needed, 
adaptation of ecclesiastical structures and of theo- 
logical interpretations of those structures. 

We have only begun to suggest some of the elements 
that have entered into the formation of our doctrine. 
In this evening's session we cannot pretend to explore 
them all, nor even to exhaust the discussion of a 
single one of these which I have suggested. Never- 
theless an honest discussion and consideration of any 
one of these may prove to be an opening by which we 
shall come to understand, not only each other's 
doctrine, but each other, under the One Lord in whose 
Name we make our prayers, and by whose grace we live. 


"Worship: Source and Strength ef Virtue" 
The Reverend Claude U. Broach 

Job 38:1-21 

I interpret my responsibility and privilege in 
these moments this morning in terms of worship. There 
are among us men of massive scholarship, and we will 
delight in the opportunity to hear them. There are 
amond us individuals who are wise in the dynamics of 
social action and political concern, and for this we 
are grateful. But we have set aside these moments 
as a time of worship, a time to be reminded of the 
larger dimensions of life, to listen for the sound of 
the beat of the distant Drummer to whose music we 
fain would march, to hear perhaps an Angelus or a Te 
Deum from afar, to put great horizons around our 
common life. Like the young Isaiah in the Temple, 
we would hear the antiphon of seraphic voices call- 
ing one to another, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord 
of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory!" 

The poet Clinton Scollard puts our need in 
these beautiful lines : 

"Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things; 
Whether it be when the dawn flames upon the windowsill, 
Or when the noon blazes like a burnished topaz in the 
vault , 

Or when the thrush pours in the ear of eve its plaintive 

Some little hour, swept by the winnowing of unseen wings, 
And touched by the white light ineffable." 

So, then, let us worship God as we ponder the im- 
peratives of the first commandment. One of the most 
popular writers in the field of philosophy in this 
century was Dr. Will Durant. He took heavy philo- 
sophical ideas and put them in language that plain 
people understand. Back in 1931 before the dreadful 
war of the 40 's swept over the world, he wrote letters 
to a number of famous individuals who were leaders in 
the intellectual, political, and spiritual life of 
the world. He asked in that letter that they face and 
respond to the haunting question: What is the meaning 
or worth of human life? 

In his own letter, he expressed his deep concern, 
bordering upon despair. "The growth... of knowledge, 
for which so many idealists and reformers prayed, has 
resulted in a disillusionment which has almost broken 


the spirit of our race... God, who once was the con- 
solation of our brief life, and our refuge in be- 
reavement and suffering, has apparently vanished 
from the scene; no telescope, no microscope discovers 
him.. Life has become, in that total perspective 
which is philosophy, a fitful pullulation of human 
insects on the earth, a planetary eczema that may 
soon be cured; nothing is certain in it except de- 
feat and death--a sleep from which it seems there 
is no awakening .. .this is the pass to which science 
and philosophy have brought us." 

In his analysis of the replies to his letter, 
he offers this graphic comment in conclusion: 
"The greatest question of our time is not communism 
versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not 
even the West versus the East; it is whether man 
can bear to live without God." These words were 
written about 40 years ago, and most of us would 
agree that not much has changed since that time. 
Knowledge and power and progress have brought us 
to a strange passage in the history of the world. 
In writing of the Temptation experience of Jesus, 
Mark says, "he was among the wild beasts; and the 
angels ministered to him." Mankind dwells amont 
the beasts today — the beasts of fear, guilt, de- 
linquency, crime, poverty, disease, racial strife. 
Against such a background, it is difficult to see 
how anyone would fail to find relevance in the glow- 
ing words of the first commandment: 

"I am the Lord your God: you shall have no 
other gods before Me." 

Let us remind ourselves that this is more than 
the "first" commandment; it is the pillar and the 
ground, the matrix and the womb of all others. It 
begins with the great affirmation, "I am" and it 
affirms the reality, the existence, the being of 
God. And if there is no God, there are no command- 
ments. And if there are no commandments, then there 
are no standards by which deeds are to be measured 
in moral terms. If there is no God then we have no 
Deity to answer the hunger in our hearts for some- 
thing beyond ourselves. Plutarch, the ancient Roman 
said, "You may find communities without walls, with- 
out letters, without kings, without money, with no 
need of coinage ; without acquaintance with theatre 
or gymnasium; but a community without holy rite, 
without a God, that uses not prayer; without sacrifice 
to win the good or avert the evil--no man ever saw or 
will see." 


Even the Science that seems superficially to war 
against faith brings us ultimately to look for Him, for 
it demands that we look behind events to find a cause. 
It is not faith but reason which speaks in these lines : 
"Behind the dream: the Dreamer 

Behind the thought: the Thinker 

Behind the work: the Artisan 

Behind the masterpiece: the Painter 

Behind the poem: the Poet 

Behind the skyscraper: the Architect 

Behind the book: the Author 

Behind the harvest : the Sower 

Behind the universe: God. 

Faith does not outrage reason, and believing is not 
in any sense the rape of the unwilling mind. On the con- 
trary! If the believing man be accused of credulity, he 
well may answer that faith is far more reasonable than 
the affirmation of unfaith which would call the universe 
a cosmic accident, or the life of man the consequence of 
mindless forces operating without design or Designer. 
This remains the sophomoric posture of a pseudo-science 
which leaves no room for God only because He will not 
conform to their system of proof. To such a mood, the 
delightful Britisher, J. B. Priestly, speaks with rare 
wisdom and wit: 

"Great scientists are nearly always genuine wise 
men and sages, but after all there are not many 
of them, whereas there are multitudes of the 
triumphant little men. It is these little men 
who produce the 'nothing but' accounts of this 
life, robbing it of all mystery and wonder. 
Life, they tell us, is 'nothing but' something 
or other; and if I know nothing else I know in 
my very bones that these fellows are wrong. I 
would rather believe the wildest nonsense ever 
imported with the films and tinned fruit from 
California than march round their tiny circle 
with these 'nothing but' men. I would rather 
believe I am an ex-Babylonian queen who has been 
turned into a Yorkshire author by a Great White 
Master in Tibet. I would rather believe that I 
am guided by the spirit of my late great-uncle 
Alfred through a dead Red Indian who speaks in 
the voice of a stout woman in a Brixton basement. 
Anything, anything rather than this cheap cock- 
sure intellectuality, which dispises every age 
but this one because we know, and they didn't 
know, how to fly the Atlantic or use X-rays. 
For our very progress has only thrown into 


relief our gigantic silliness. You have only 
to read a newspaper or take a short walk to 
discover that we are among the silliest 
people who ever lived." 

We are not intimidated, we who live by faith. 
Faith lights candles for the feet of reason, but she 
builds her house on reason's sure stones. It is not 
faith but sanity which affirms: God is . It is this 
inescapable, unforgettable, primordial sanity which has 
driven men to build their altars and gather in their 
temples. Wherever there is man, there is the haunting 
knowledge that God is. 

God is; but that is not enough. God is.... what? 
If God is, then the next question is the most important 
question of life. What is God like, and what does He 
want of me? For this answer, we turn from the Old 
Testament to the New, for the answer is best found here. 
Not only in these pages, but in the lives of multitudes 
of men and women who have found Jesus Christ to be the 
unfailing clue to the haunting mystery of life. For 
in him we have a full, clear answer to this haunting 
question about God. If this affirmation is hard to 
accept, let it be remembered that this was the testimony 
of men who knew him in the days of his flesh. It 
became the conviction of men who were at first unwill- 
ing to believe it, who were conditioned by their 
heritage to reject it, who yet believe it at last 
because no other explanation made sense. Years ago, 
as a confused seminarian, I copied these lines from 
Harry Emerson Fosdick, and they still make good sense 
to me : 

"Is he an accident or a revelation? At first 
they may have said God sent him. After a 
while that sounded too cold, as though God 
were a bow and Jesus the arrow. That would 
not do. God did more than send him. So I 
suspect they went on to say, God is with him. 
That went deeper. Yet, as their experience 
with him progressed, it was not adequate. 
God was more than with him. So at last we 
catch the reverent accents of a new conviction , 
God came in him. That was not so much theology 
at first as poetry. It was an exhilarating 
insight and its natural expression was a song. 
God can come into human life! they cried; 
God has come into human life! Divinity and 
humanity are not so separate that the visit- 
ations of the Eternal are impossible. . .God 
can come because God has come..." 


This has been the constant affirmation of twenty 
centuries of man's life. Through the rise and fall of 
nations, the hopes and dreams of empire, the folly and 
pride of princes and kings, the struggles of war and 
death, through of all this the testimony of the ages 
is this same triumphant affirmation: Jesus Christ is 
Lord. He is the clue to the nature and the will of God. 
He answers for us the two haunting questions, What is 
God like? What does He want us to do? 

Jesus said, "he that hath seen me hath seen the 
Father." This is what God is like. "You must love the 
Lord with your whole being, and your neighbor as your- 
self." This is what He wants us to do. This is the 
faith which has brought us here. We are at our best 
when we celebrate it rather than when we try to explain 
it. Our music is always better than our words. Wisely, 
then, in the midst of our dialogue we pause to cry 
with the seraphim, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of 
hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory!" 

Who is wise enough to tell us where God is and 
what He is doing? Who is so privy to divine counsel 
that he can tell us always what is the will and the 
way of God? Is there any man so arrogant as that man 
who claims to have God in his pocket, who has all the 
answers for the dilemmas which torture more honest 
men? Where worship happens, reverence grows. And 
humility is the first-born child of reverence. 
Christian dialogue between separated brethren 
flourishes in the atmosphere of humility, a humility 
which stands barefoot on holy ground to say that the 
ways of the Eternal are beyond our powers to predict, 
explain, or--most certainly--beyond our power to 
capture or command. The wind of the Spirit blows 
where it wills to blow. We do not control that 
Spirit-wind. It blows in our time as it has blown 
in all the years of man's pilgrimage. The tempo of 
the wind may change, but the direction never changes. 
God's wind blows always in the direction of justice, 
brotherhood, and peace. 

Joyfully and confidently we lift our sails. 


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